Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: New Orleans tries to extend win streak to seven in San Antonio

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

SAN ANTONIO – Two of the most memorable moments from Anthony Davis’ six-year NBA career have involved the San Antonio Spurs, including a Game 82 victory in 2015 that sent New Orleans to the Western Conference playoffs, as well as a game-winning drive and layup at AT&T Center in November of that same season. Davis and the Pelicans (34-26) have a chance Wednesday to extend their longest winning streak during the All-Star power forward’s tenure with the franchise, having prevailed in six straight games entering a 7:30 p.m. matchup with San Antonio (36-25). New Orleans can also move to within a half game of its Southwest Division counterpart, having not been ahead of San Antonio in the standings in March or later since 2008.

Davis is averaging 41.5 points during his team’s six-game winning streak, along with 15.0 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 3.0 steals, a staggering stat line for such an extended period of time. In three games since the All-Star break, the 24-year-old has scored 45, 27 and 53 points in victories over Miami, Milwaukee and Phoenix, respectively.

“Amazing,” described Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic after Wednesday’s shootaround in Texas. “Everyone is expecting a lot from him, but especially after All-Star break, he became a beast, scoring so easily, playing with a lot of confidence. The thing is he’s playing both sides – he’s not just playing offensively, but playing great defensively. That is the biggest reason why we are 6-0 right now (since a Feb. 10 win in Brooklyn).”

“I’ve played a lot of basketball and seen a lot of great players,” said New Orleans center Emeka Okafor, who has started the five past games. “AD still amazes me every game, with his effort and consistency. What he’s doing out there is amazing.”

Other notes from shootaround this morning:

New Orleans enters Wednesday just 2.0 games out of third place in the West, but also just 1.5 games ahead of ninth-place Denver (33-28), adding to the importance of each night on the schedule (including some of the nights when the Pelicans are idle).

Mirotic on the current situation involving such a tight race, as well as the Pelicans getting behind in first quarters recently: “We know everyone is fighting for something right now. We are fighting for being in the playoffs and get the position for the playoffs. We know that we can do better, especially defensively. Lately we’ve had a little bit of slow starts, then we pick up our energy and confidence.” …

Wednesday with mark the 21st time Okafor has squared off against San Antonio in his 10-year NBA career (it will be No. 20 for Davis). The native of the Lone Star State said that the Pelicans must be focused all night long while facing one of the league’s best-executing teams.

“They’re a very smart team,” Okafor said. “All of their teams play with machine-like precision. You’ve got to make it as uncomfortable for them as possible and make sure you’re paying attention.”