New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis attributes his team’s recent success to better communication among his teammates.
Attempting to turn their season around, Davis and the Pelicans will go for a fourth win in five games Monday night while they try to earn a little revenge against the Orlando Magic.
A playoff team last spring, the Pelicans started this season 0-6 and dropped 10 of their first 11 games while giving up an average of 110 points. The slump included a 103-94 home loss to Orlando on Nov. 3 when Davis shot 3 for 12 from the field and scored 14 points in 36 minutes, his worst offensive performance in a full game this season.
Davis averaged 22.7 points and 8.4 rebounds during the 1-11 start. He has averaged 24.1 points and 12.3 rebounds during the recent 3-1 stretch, including 24 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks as the Pelicans held on for a 110-108 win over Houston on Saturday.
The former No. 1 overall pick scored the game’s final basket, giving the Pelicans the lead for good on a dunk with 2:14 remaining. New Orleans, which trailed by nine in the fourth, locked down on defense after that as the Rockets missed their final four shots.
Eric Gordon scored 26 points, hitting 6 of 8 3-point attempts as New Orleans went 13 of 24 from long range.
The Pelicans (10-20) are just 3-14 on the road and have the second-worst record in the Western Conference, but Davis thinks they are starting to figure things out.
"We’re just trusting each other, helping each other, talking to each other," Davis said. "We’re starting to have a better understanding of our defense, our assignments, our schemes and what we need to run against certain teams."
Orlando (17-13) is coming off a 108-101 loss to Miami on Saturday. Nikola Vucevic scored 22 points and Elfrid Payton had 18, but the Magic gave up 24 points each to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and 22 to Goran Dragic.
Orlando outshot Miami 54.4 percent to 49.4 percent and led by as many as 15 in the third quarter, but Wade scored 12 of his 24 in the last 4:53 to lead a Heat comeback.
Vucevic and Payton scored Orlando’s final 20 points over the last 8:19. Vucevic is averaging 18.7 points and 9.1 rebounds in 13 games this month.
"When things get a little tight, we occasionally get the blinders on and want to do it on our own," Magic coach Scott Skiles said. "We kind of panicked and everybody tried to be the hero instead of just doing what we do. We’re not good enough to do that. Period."
The Magic fell to 10-6 at home, where they’ll wrap up a four-game homestand Wednesday against Brooklyn.
They have won four of the past six meetings with the Pelicans. Evan Fournier scored a career-high 30 points in the Nov. 3 win in New Orleans.