Postgame wrap: Pelicans 140, Cavaliers 124

Pelicans (20-22), Cavaliers (8-34)
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

New Orleans had a bit more difficulty vs. Cleveland on Wednesday than during a matchup four days prior, but after the Cavaliers went on an early three-point shooting binge in the Smoothie King Center, the hosts eventually gained control. Prior to this week, the Pelicans hadn’t won consecutive games since mid-November, but the victory over the Cavaliers marked their second three-game win streak of 2018-19. That three-game stretch began with a 35-point rout over Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena on the weekend; this time the Cavaliers went up by 16 points in the first half, before the Pelicans completely turned around the game after intermission.

Nikola Mirotic returned from a 12-game injury absence Wednesday, a welcome sight for a Pelicans team that has waited a long time to be close to full strength. New Orleans played without E’Twaun Moore (quad) vs. Cleveland, sitting out a second straight game. Mirotic was kept to 22 minutes of playing time and shot 4/7 from three-point range to account for most of his 17 points.

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Julius Randle glided in on a fast break for an and-one dunk with 5:30 remaining, giving New Orleans a 17-point lead after he sank the free throw. The Pelicans trailed 63-59 at halftime, but poured in 81 points in the second half, outscoring the Cavaliers by 20.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Two days after he notched 36 points and 13 rebounds vs. Memphis, Anthony Davis posted 38 and 13 in those categories, again throwing down a slew of dunks. With Davis converting so many point-blank shots, he was 11/17 from the field. The five-time All-Star also registered seven assists and four blocks. He became just the 10th player in NBA history with at least 38 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks in a game.

FOCUS ON: MOMENTUM ENTERING A PIVOTAL STRETCH

Certainly the opposition will be questioned, because Cleveland and Memphis are both on lengthy losing streaks, but New Orleans players have been encouraged by a number of developments during a three-game winning streak they’ll take into a five-game, Jan. 12-21 Western Conference road trip. After Wednesday’s second win over the Cavaliers in a five-day span, Davis praised the Pelicans’ defensive effort and performance, which included seven NOLA blocks.

“It’s always good to have a healthy team,” Davis said on postgame radio, alluding to Mirotic’s return, “but I think what we’re doing now is playing well defensively. We’re locked in defensively and getting stops. If we’re able to play defensively the way we have the last three games, we’re able to win every game, and play against anybody.”

From an intangible, confidence-building standpoint, New Orleans has the NBA’s best offense since Elfrid Payton’s return Dec. 31, as well as a 9-2 record overall this season when Payton plays (8-1 when the starting point guard logs 20-plus minutes).

BY THE NUMBERS

9/9: Cleveland three-point shooting to open the game, part of how the visitors grabbed a 38-25 lead after the first quarter.

5/21: Cleveland three-point shooting the rest of the way, as the Cavs came back to earth from long distance.

44-31: New Orleans rebounding advantage, led by Davis’ 13 boards and eight by Randle.

Pelicans vs. Cavaliers Postgame: Head Coach Alvin Gentry 1-9-19

Head Coach Alvin Gentry speaks to the media following the Pelicans' third straight win.

Game 42: Pelicans vs. Cavaliers

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Pelicans vs. Cavaliers Postgame: Head Coach Alvin Gentry 1-9-19

Head Coach Alvin Gentry speaks to the media following the Pelicans' third straight win.
Jan 9, 2019  |  03:15

Pelicans vs. Cavaliers Postgame: Frank Jackson 1-9-19

Frank Jackson speaks to the media following his career-high night with the Pelicans.
Jan 9, 2019  |  01:36

Pelicans vs. Cavaliers Postgame: Nikola Mirotic 1-9-19

Nikola Mirotic talks about his first game back since injury.
Jan 9, 2019  |  02:59

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Highlights 01-09-19

The New Orleans Pelicans finished the home stand strong by defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 140-124 on January 9.
Jan 9, 2019  |  02:54

Jrue Holiday eases his way to 18 against the Cavaliers

Jrue Holiday puts up an easy 18 in the Pelicans victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Jan 9, 2019  |  01:52

Nikola Mirotic is back to his scoring ways

Nikola Mirotic returns to the lineup after missing 12 games with an ankle injury and puts up 17 points against the Cavaliers.
Jan 9, 2019  |  01:19

Julius Randle puts up 17 against the Cavaliers

Julius Randle takes care of business inside and puts up 17 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Jan 9, 2019  |  01:55

Anthony Davis leads the charge with 38 points

Anthony Davis sets the pace for the Pelicans by scoring 38 points in the victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Jan 9, 2019  |  01:59

Frank Jackson from long range

Frank Jackson drills the corner three to give Pelicans the momentum
Jan 9, 2019  |  00:17

Nikola Mirotic finds his shot

After missing several games, Nikola Mirotic makes his return and sinks the long ball
Jan 9, 2019  |  00:11

Big man to big man inside game

Julius Randle and Anthony Davis get it done in the paint
Jan 9, 2019  |  00:26

Davis slices through defenders with sneaky between the legs drive

Anthony Davis catches at the top of the key and goes between the legs to slice through two Cavalier defenders.
Jan 9, 2019  |  00:09

Block party, Cavaliers are invited

Anthony Davis meets two Cavalier players at the rim for the denial
Jan 9, 2019  |  00:11

Anthony Davis cranks it back

Elfrid Payton lobs it up to Anthony Davis on the fast break who cranks it back for the slam
Jan 9, 2019  |  00:27
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