Pelicans.com postgame: Pelicans 98, Wolves 91
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
The most memorable day of Anthony Davis’ brief NBA career began with him receiving word Friday that he’d been added to the Western Conference All-Star team, meaning he’ll get to play in front of his home fans Feb. 16 in the league’s midseason showcase event. Only a few hours later, the 6-foot-10 power forward registered 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a dramatic, come-from-behind win over Minnesota on national television. If that wasn’t already enough, moments after the buzzer, the second-year pro sat down with ESPN broadcasters Hubie Brown and Ryan Ruocco for a postgame TV interview. When that chat wrapped up, Davis walked off the Smoothie King Center court and was loudly greeted by a few hundred fans, who decided to stick around near the Pelicans’ locker-room tunnel in order to give the 20-year-old one final, raucous cheer.
“It was great, man,” Davis said, with a hint of smile while seated on his locker-room chair. “I’m going to enjoy it while I can, then come back Sunday and do well against Brooklyn and keep pushing.”
“It’s a great way to cap the day off,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said. “To be selected in the early afternoon, and then to play like that on national TV, in front of the world, it’s pretty cool. It’s a lot for a 20-year-old who’s just scratching the surface of what he can do.”
In the weeks leading up to Davis’ All-Star nod, the shot-blocking, rebounding and scoring force has put up gaudy individual statistics on a consistent basis, but the Pelicans have also begun piling up wins recently. After trailing 71-61 through three quarters Friday, New Orleans (22-27) outscored Minnesota (24-26) by a 37-20 margin in the final 12 minutes. The Pelicans posted their sixth win in the last eight games and finished 3-1 on a difficult homestand by defeating Chicago, Atlanta and Minnesota. The team’s lone defeat came in narrow fashion to Western Conference juggernaut San Antonio.
For the second straight game, New Orleans used big late-game contributions from several of its role players to prevail. Davis scored six of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, while Anthony Morrow drained three straight three-pointers to account for all of his nine points. Eric Gordon added nine of his 20 points in the final stanza.
After pulling into the lead with a big surge to start the fourth period, Brian Roberts (16 points, six assists) made a momentous basket in the final minute for the second time in three nights. Like in the Atlanta win, Roberts scored a hoop to give New Orleans a two-possession edge, this time on a two-point jumper that made it 96-91 with 22 seconds left. Davis tacked on two free throws with 15 seconds remaining, giving New Orleans its final edge of 98-91.
“(Anthony Morrow) has stepped up for us huge the last three games,” Davis said. “Brian Roberts, what he did tonight speaks for itself. All of our guys. We’re just playing team basketball. Everybody’s staying ready.”
New Orleans exacted a measure of revenge against Minnesota, which had twice beaten the Pelicans in Minneapolis during the month of January. Both defeats were frustrating affairs in which New Orleans lost by double digits.
“It’s just a big game for us,” Williams said. “We had so many guys step up tonight for us, making shots, making plays, big rebounds. It’s just good to get a win against that team. I think they’d beaten us four in a row. The way we beat them, with our defense, was really cool."