Through the first 11 games of the 2013-2014 NBA season, the New Orleans Pelicans have been a bit of a disappointment, but on Friday, they flashed the type of upside that their multi-talented roster could achieve while defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 104-100.
Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans each posted double-doubles in the victory for New Orleans, and they came in all shapes and sizes. The 20-year-old Davis (who has been featured in actual MVP conversations this season) put up a “ho-hum” line of 17 points and 13 rebounds in the game, but his 3-block, 2-steal defensive effort reminds everyone of just how explosive he can be on both ends.
As for the two guards, Evans had his best game in a Pelicans uniform, posting season-highs in scoring (19 points) and rebounding (10) along with the game’s best +/- at +18. I was openly critical of the signing (for that money, anyway) of Evans in the off-season, but he’s an unquestionably talented asset, which was on full display here. Lastly, Holiday added 15 points, 11 assists, and 3 steals for New Orleans, and they desperately need him to be the player that he was during an All-Star push with Philly last season.
On the flip side, this is a potentially devastating loss for the Cavs. Cleveland had a 9-point lead at the half before surrendering 62 second-half points, and the new-look Cavs have been flatly unable to sustain success during their 4-9 start this season. It was an off night for Kyrie Irving (9 of 22 shooting), and with the way that Cleveland’s supporting cast has performed, they simply can’t sustain many of those efforts from their leading man.
New Orleans now sits at 6-6 on the year, and they are suddenly back in the conversation for a low-end playoff spot in the West. If they can continue to get high-end efforts from their best players (Davis aside, since he’s been tremendous), they’ll be a scary match-up for just about anyone.