NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis doesn’t really believe that much has changed about what New Orleans is doing over the past 10 games than was happening in the eight before that.
All they’re doing, he says, is “just playing basketball.”
Further, he says, “we’re just playing Pelicans basketball with defense first.”
Well, not exactly.
They’re allowing a half-point less in the past 10 games, but it’s still 103.6 per game. And when adjusted per 100 possessions, they’re still allowing 107 points.
It’s what the Pelicans (30-40), and specifically Davis and Tyreke Evans, have been doing on offense that appears to be the difference.
Tonight, when New Orleans hosts the Clippers (50-21) for their season series finale, the Pelicans hope to keep up their blistering offensive pace.
New Orleans is averaging 15 points more per game and 13 more points per 100 possessions during this 7-3 stretch than when it went 0-8 after the All-Star Break. The Pelicans are getting to the free-throw line for six more shots and are converting six more free throws per game.
They’re turning the ball over on average one fewer time per game and are shooting 5.5 percent better from the floor.
Simply put, the Pelicans have become more efficient and more potent on offense.
While Davis is averaging 31.3 points, 13.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks during the stretch, and Evans is putting up 22.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds, it’s partly what the bench is doing that has helped.
And specifically, what Austin Rivers and Anthony Morrow are giving. Both are giving coach Monty Williams steady play off the bench, hitting big shots and getting to the free-throw line more often.
“Obviously we’re getting big games from Tyreke and AD,” Williams said. “But I think our bench has stepped up. Different guys, whether it’s Alexis or Luke or Austin, they’ve given us major contributions. And then our bench is defending, which is something you can struggle with on a young team, is getting your bench to come in the game and maintain or increase, especially on the defensive end.”
What hasn’t changed, Morrow said, is how the team has prepared for games now and how they’ve approached practice.
“Everybody is a professional,” Morrow said. “That’s the main thing. If you can keep that and keep the spirit of guys up in the locker room and keep guys motivated, it has to turn around and when it does, it’s not going to be that much of a surprise.”