Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: New Orleans getting more overall contributions from roster during 4-1 stretch

by Jim Eichenhofer

Alvin Gentry’s words of advice were directed to Cheick Diallo, but they just as easily could’ve applied to numerous other members of the New Orleans Pelicans. Even though Diallo wasn’t playing much early in the season, he needed to be prepared in case the opportunity came for him to contribute.

“Coach was just telling me to be ready,” Diallo said after Monday’s shootaround inside the Ochsner Sports Performance Center, where New Orleans (7-6) prepared this morning to face Atlanta (2-11). “When your number gets called, you’ve just got to bring it.”

Diallo responded Saturday in his largest minute allotment of the season, registering nine points and six rebounds in 19:19 of action. The Pelicans have often gone without a power forward or center in their second unit this season, adding to the importance of Diallo being able to make an impact off the bench. If he can, it may be easier for Gentry to at least slightly reduce the workload for the All-Star combination of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

In helping to beat the Clippers 111-103, Diallo was joined by starter E’Twaun Moore as a key figure for the winners, beyond the typically large numbers produced by Davis and Cousins. Moore registered 18 points on efficient 9/12 shooting from the field, taking advantage of cutting lanes to the basket created partly by the attention drawn by the bigs.

“I just tried to feed off our big guys,” Moore said of his performance. “They are great passers, especially DeMarcus. Every time I cut, he’s always looking for me, and I know that.”

Other notes from shootaround:

New Orleans has scored at least 110 points seven times in regulation this season, something that took last season’s Pelicans until Dec. 11 (their 25th game of 2016-17) to achieve. While Cousins (28.7 points per game) and Davis (27.3) are ranked fourth and sixth, respectively, in the NBA in scoring average, New Orleans is starting to get more offense from the rest of the squad. For instance, Moore is averaging 13.6 points in the team’s seven wins this season, shooting 55.4 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from three-point range. His numbers in those categories during the six losses are 7.5, 40.9 and 33.3, respectively.

“Especially after the beginning of the season, where the bench wasn’t putting up a lot of numbers to help the guys out, we are more comfortable as a team and we’re just starting to figure stuff out,” Pelicans reserve forward Darius Miller said of the recent uptick.

Miller himself has been another example of that improvement, starting the season 2/15 from three-point range over his first eight games, but going 12/21 since (57.1 percent) in the past five contests. New Orleans is 4-1 during that span, including a 3-1 road trip and Saturday’s home victory over the Clippers.