The fledgling New Orleans Pelicans are enjoying a confidence-boosting start to the preseason, as they are now 2-0 after outlasting another opponent in the game’s final seconds.
Monday night, bolstered by guard Brian Roberts final seven points and go-ahead jumper with just seconds remaining in the game, the Pels defeated the Dallas Mavericks 94-92 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. This follows a 116-115 win over the Houston Rockets Saturday night in Dwight Howard’s exhibition debut.
Coach Monty Williams is encouraged with how this young squad is finishing games, so far.
“I liked the sustained effort,” Williams said. “In the first half, the way we just allowed them to run their offense, it was almost like they were in practice. In the second half I thought our defense was a little bit better, but they turned the ball over 28 times. You should win the game when your opponent does that. I was happy with the effort but obviously after two games there are a number of things to improve on and we will.”
The face of New Orleans’ franchise, Anthony Davis, aggressively attacked the hoop, showing more confidence driving and prowling the baseline. Davis ended the night with 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting, plus seven rebounds, a steal and a block before he exited the game in the fourth quarter after colliding at the knees with a Mavericks player.
“I think he is not worried about making mistakes,” Williams said. “He’s attacking when he needs to and he’s worked on his game and that gives you a level of confidence like no other. When you work as hard as he did this summer, you find yourself on the floor and things may be a bit easier than it was the year before. I think he’s stronger. Certainly he’s going to have to deal with a new scouting report. People are going to try and figure him out and he’s got to be able to make his adjustments.”
New addition Jrue Holiday certainly seems to be figuring Davis out. The two combined for several alley oops that will have fans on their feet if this duo can repeat the performance at home in New Orleans.
“He was able to make big baskets for us down the stretch and carry us on his back,” guard Austin Rivers said. “It’s nice to have someone like that. I always tell AD that the more aggressive he is, the more open everybody is. Sometimes I don’t even think he realizes how good he really is at that four position. There aren’t too many people that can guard AD at the four position.”
Rivers, like Williams, was much more satisfied with the team’s performance after halftime.
“That second half we just came out with more energy,” Rivers said. “In the first half we looked really dull, both teams did. I think we played into their hands a little bit. They came out a little rusty and I think we played into that as well instead of coming out and capitalizing on what we need to do. Our chemistry is not there yet, and it can’t be because we have so many new players, but it will get better in time.”
The next test for the Pelicans comes Wednesday night in Orlando versus the Magic.