The New Orleans Pelicans are now perfect on the preseason, boasting a 3-0 record that they hope is indicative of a promising upcoming regular season that will lead to the playoffs.
Wednesday night, the Pelicans defeated Orlando 99-95, thanks to stellar play once again from second-year players Anthony Davis and Brian Roberts.
Davis, New Orleans’ No. 1 pick from the 2012 draft, has now scored 20-plus points in all three preseason contests. Monday versus the Magic, Davis put up 29 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in 31 minutes of playing time. Those who know him best say the University of Kentucky product is just getting started.
“He’s worked on his game,” head coach Monty Williams said. “He spent a lot of time in the gym this summer to prepare for the things that he couldn’t do last year. And he’s only scratching the surface. He’s going to get better.”
“He’s an exciting guy to watch, it’s fun to see him develop,” forward Ryan Anderson said, after personally contributing 12 points and 8 rebounds in Wednesday’s win. “When AD is aggressive, no one can stop him, and that’s what we continue to embed in his mind. He’s one of those rare players who doesn’t quite understand yet how good he even is, and he just continues to impress us. His timing is great, he’s incredibly mature. We talk about that forever with his age but he is very mature and he picks up on the game really easily.”
Davis is also showing improvement in drawing fouls. The 6’10” forward was 11-for-11 from the charity stripe Wednesday, bolstering the Pels’ to a 26-for-29 free-throw ratio.
“It’s why I’ve been working hard all summer,” Davis said. “I’ve been in the gym with the coaches working on my stuff, trying to put it to use. I know it’s preseason but I’m trying to send the message that we’re a good team as well. I’m trying to see where I like being on the floor, seeing what the coaches want me to do, learning how to play with Jrue and Anthony Morrow and all the new guys that we’ve got. So it’s definitely time to come together as a team.”
For a second straight game, guard Brian Roberts made his presence known in the game’s final quarter, scoring 10 points, including 5-for-5 on foul shots. Roberts totaled 17 points in the fourth quarter of Monday’s win at Dallas.
Of course, the real test comes when opponents kick into regular season competition mode, but Davis says this young New Orleans squad will benefit from acting as if this is the regular season.
“We know it’s preseason, but we’re not trying to treat it like that,” Davis. “We have to come out with a great mindset and great intensity. We want to carry this over to the season, and get this rolling when we play Indiana at home.”
The Pels get some brief time at home in New Orleans before facing the Atlanta Hawks Sunday in Biloxi, MS. Ongoing renovations at the New Orleans Arena, ahead of this year’s All-Star Weekend, mean the Pels won’t play on their home court until their preseason meeting with the Miami Heat Wednesday, Oct. 23. Regular season play begins against the Indiana Pacers in the New Orleans Arena on Oct. 30.