Pelicans Upset Clippers For 4th Straight Win
The young New Orleans Pelicans (31-40) may not be heading to the postseason, but they're suddenly one of the hottest teams in the league.
With only 9 healthy players, the Pelicans topped one of the league's best teams in the Los Angeles Clippers, earning an exciting 98-96 victory. New Orleans has won 4 straight games, their longest streak of the season.
Role player Anthony Morrow and seldom used Darius Miller each had career performances in the surprise victory. The two combined for 46 points (Morrow 27, Miller 16) on only 46 shot attempts. New Orleans didn't have their top 3 point guards on the depth chart (Jrue Holiday, Brian Roberts, Austin Rivers), leaving Miller to spend time at the point for stretches.
"He’s a guy that I didn’t know was going to be able to play at that kind of level because he just hasn’t done it," said Pelicans coach Monty Williams of Miller.. "To his credit, he stepped up when we needed him. He played point guard, knocked down big shots, and played great defense."
Tyreke Evans (pictured) started at PG, spending most of the game handling the ball, but didn't have a great offensive night by his standards. Nor did Anthony Davis. The two combined for 26 points on 35 shot attempts. Despite this, and despite only having one primary ball handler (Evans) active Wednesday night, New Orleans defeated the Clippers, and held All-Star Chris Paul to a season low 2 points on 0-12 shooting.
While Davis didn't have the offensive impact he's had as of late, his presence defensively was felt, as he set a franchise record with 6 blocks in a single quarter. His final stat line of 24 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks, 4 assists, and 2 steals is All-Star worthy, even though he had an "off night" offensively.
“We’ve got a great group of guys who continue to compete at a high level with a number of things against us,” Williams said. “Not only did we beat a good team, we beat a team that’s got a chance to win a title."
Another overlooked role player who stepped up Wednesday was backup center Alexis Ajinca. He came off the bench to give New Orleans a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds), providing an infectious aggressive spark that helped the Pelicans match the Clippers physicality.
With only 11 games left in the season, the short handed Pelicans are playing their best basketball. They'll look to continue building momentum to cap off the year. Next up, a Friday night home game versus the Utah Jazz. Tip-off is set for 7:00.