Past New Orleans nemesis Anthony Morrow joins Pelicans

Past New Orleans nemesis Anthony Morrow joins Pelicans

The old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” For the New Orleans Pelicans, in the case of the July free-agent acquisition of guard Anthony Morrow, a fitting description could’ve been “If you can’t stop him, sign him.”

Although Morrow has compiled many impressive shooting statistics during his five-year NBA career, the numbers he’s generated specifically against New Orleans look like a series of misprints. According to the stat-driven site Basketball-Reference.com, in 10 career games vs. the then-Hornets, Morrow shot an absurd 67.7 percent from three-point range (21-for-31). He’s also at 57.3 percent from the field (43-for-75) when facing New Orleans. Those are easily Morrow’s best percentages in both categories against any of the league’s 30 franchises.

If that’s not enough evidence that Morrow has enjoyed seeing the Crescent City’s pro team, he also set the all-time NBA Summer League single-game scoring record vs. New Orleans. On July 16, 2009, the Georgia Tech product racked up 47 points (including going 7-for-9 on three-pointers) for Golden State, highlighting a 104-84 victory. Morrow’s Las Vegas record still stands.

“I knew I’d always played well here, but I didn’t realize (the career-best stats vs. New Orleans),” Morrow said. “I can’t really explain it. There is something about (the New Orleans Arena) – it’s always been one of my favorite gyms to play in. I’ve always liked playing here. Here, Staples Center, Madison Square Garden, those have been great places to play for me. I don’t know if it’s the atmosphere or the depth perception (of the shooting background), but all of those factors combine in shot-making.”

Fortunately for New Orleans, it received a much-welcomed break from Morrow’s red-hot shooting in 2012-13. While splitting the season between the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks, Morrow only appeared in two games vs. NOLA, logging a total of just seven minutes and going 1-for-2 from the field. Prior to last season, Morrow had averaged 17.0 points in his six most recent contests vs. New Orleans. His overall scoring average in 297 regular-season games is 10.9. Among the league’s 400-plus active players, his career three-point percentage of 42.4 ranks him fifth, behind only Stephen Curry, Steve Novak, Steve Nash and Danny Green.

Despite separate 28-, 24 and 20-point games vs. New Orleans from 2010-12, the Charlotte, N.C., native said he’s happy to no longer have to face its often-stingy defense, which had been one of the league’s most effective prior to slipping to 28th in 2012-13.

“Defensively, they’ve been a good team,” Morrow said. “They play hard every single possession and make it tough on you. I can see the culture they’re building from the ground up. It’s like a family atmosphere here with Coach (Monty) Williams and his staff. They’ve been building through the draft, but also through free agency. It kinds of reminds me a little bit of how Oklahoma City started off when they were in Seattle.”

Speaking of family, Morrow has several relatives in the Gulf South and looked forward to his trips to New Orleans as a visiting player – and not just because of his on-court success against the Hornets.

“I’ve always loved New Orleans,” Morrow said. “I have family in New Orleans and the deep country (of Louisiana). In college we came here a lot. I love the food and the city – it’s a real traditional city. I see Coach Williams and his staff trying to build a team with that same down-home, hard-working approach. I’m excited about coming in and fitting right in with their system.”