NEW ORLEANS — For much of Tyreke Evans’ first six weeks with the Pelicans, it was easy to wonder why New Orleans had to have him.
He was either injured or consistently missing shots, turning in average performances.
Well, now we know
Evans scored 19 points, dished out 10 assists, grabbed seven rebounds and did exactly what coach Monty Williams needed him to do off of the bench, leading the Pelicans to a 105-89 win over Denver Friday night.
“He has the ability to create for other people and he and (Anthony Davis) are getting some synergy in pick-and-roll situations or in transition,” Williams said.
Friday night’s win, the first for New Orleans (13-14) over a team with a winning record, wasn’t about individual accomplishments, Evans hinted. Rather, it was payback for a nine-point loss at altitude 12 days earlier, one in which Denver (14-14) outrebounded New Orleans by 19.
“We owed them from Denver,” Evans said. “They kicked our butts in rebounding and one of our main focus was to try to go down and help our bigs out and I think we did a good job of that.”
Indeed they did.
New Orleans turned the tables this time, outrebounding the Nuggets by 11.
The key sequence, however, wasn’t started in transition. It came when New Orleans had to take the ball out of the bottom of the net following a 3-pointer by Quincy Miller that cut the Pelicans’ one-time 17-point fourth-quarter lead to six.
Point guard Jrue Holiday spied a Davis move to the basket and instead of rushing a pass, waited for the athletic forward to get near the basket.
The soft lob, grasped one-handed by Davis, turned into a run-sparking alley-oop with 2:35 to play.
“That was a big bucket for us and then I think we just got stop after stop and we were scoring off our stops,” Williams said.
New Orleans followed the bucket up with five stops on seven Nuggets possessions, including forcing three turnovers. Meanwhile, the Pelicans scored on their final five possessions, turning what could have been a razor-thin win to a comfortable double-digit blowout.
Davis finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks while Ryan Anderson put up 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Pelicans’ bench outscored Denver’s 36-17 while the team kept Denver to just 40.2 percent shooting, including just 26 percent from 3-point range.