Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Pelicans at Knicks (1/14/18)

by Jim Eichenhofer

A look at three key numbers related to Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden between New Orleans and New York (2:30 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM): 

10-5: New Orleans record this season against the Eastern Conference, but one of those handful of defeats occurred Dec. 30 in the Smoothie King Center against New York, a 105-103 loss. It was a poor-shooting evening for both teams, with the Knicks holding Anthony Davis (11/24) and DeMarcus Cousins (9/19) to inefficient games from the field. The Pelicans are 5-0 against the Central Division in 2017-18, beating each of the five clubs from that division once, but just 2-3 vs. the Atlantic, including two losses to Toronto. They are 3-2 in games with the Southeast.

42-10: Knicks advantage in bench scoring during the Dec. 30 matchup, led by 15 points from Michael Beasley and eight apiece from Frank Ntilikina and Kyle O’Quinn. All three players bested their season scoring average against New Orleans and helped the visitors build a 56-45 halftime lead. Based on points per game, the Knicks have the NBA’s No. 17 bench at 35.0 points per game, while the Pelicans are last (23.8 ppg) in the league. In fairness to the New Orleans reserves, they also average fewer shot attempts than any team (20.0 per game). The Pelicans are very top-heavy in terms of where they get their offense, with Davis, Cousins and Jrue Holiday accounting for 80.0 points per game. NOLA’s second unit is more short-handed Sunday, because Jameer Nelson won’t play due to personal reasons.

15-8: New York’s home record, which includes impressive victories in MSG over Boston, Toronto and Oklahoma City. The Knicks have had a split-personality kind of season, going just 4-15 on the road, but they’ve been very good at home. New Orleans oddly has at times been a better team away from home, with a 10-11 mark (compared to a similar 11-9 at home). Not that this has been much of a determining factor for New Orleans in outcomes lately, but three of its next four road games are against teams that currently sport losing records overall, prior to an early-February weekend trip to Oklahoma City and Minnesota on Super Bowl weekend.