The New Orleans Pelicans used an Andre Drummond ejection to spark a late-game run to sprint past the Detroit Pistons.
Stop all panic, New Orleans Pelicans fans. The streak is over.
After acquiring All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, the Boogie/Brow era got praise everywhere to be a sure fire challenger for the Western Conference’s 8th seed. After an 0-3 start, things did not look promising.
With Boogie’s technical foul against the Thunder, the Pelicans went to the Smoothie King Center short handed, against an equally fatigued Pistons. The Pistons won in overtime the night before, against an angry Portland Trailblazers squad.
But after it had been reported Anthony Davis to give a rousing speech during this morning’s shoot around (Jen Hale, Fox Sports), the Pelicans came out with the season on the line.
The Pels got out to a hot early, with an unlikely hero leading the way. While Anthony Davis paced the Pels in scoring with 16 points (4/5 shooting, 8/8 from the stripe), it was Alexis Ajinca who brought the swiss army knife. He would end up contributing eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in eight minutes of play. That got New Orleans going, leading the Pels to a 31-18 first quarter lead.
However, the Pelicans turnovers woes continued. The Pistons pulled within six on a lightning quick 7-0 run to start the second, prompting an early timeout from Gentry. The Pistons used a 14-0 fast break advantage and 11-0 points off turnover advantage, to keep pace in the first half.
However, the Pistons weren’t perfect, going 0fer from the stripe. That includes an egregious 0-8 from the stripe, versus a 17-17 start for the Pels.
The Pels finished the second up 53-50, despite 16 points from Detroit big man Jon Leuer.
Then came the third quarter.
Jrue Holiday led a 10-4 run with two three pointers and four of four shooting overall. That did help put the Pelicans’ squad up 63-54.
The Pistons continued banging the boards, with 20 offensive rebounds midway through the third quarter. However, they were not able to capitalize on the advantage.
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But everything changed on a game altering exchange at the 1:24 mark in the 3rd period.
After Tim Frazier stripped the ball from Andre Drummond, the two got tied up. After Frazier used his frustration to separate himself, Drummond then used his giant right paw to push away on the face of the little man.
After an official review, Drummond was ejected with a flagrant 2 foul. The Pistons never recovered.
The fourth was a runaway for the Pels, who enjoyed their first sigh of relief since the All Star break. It’s something to build on, but the Pels have a steep mountain to climb if they plan on reentering the playoff race.
Detroit did not convert their first free throw or turnover their first possession until the four minute mark in third.
“The Brow” paced all scorers with 33 points and also contributed 14 rebounds on an ultra efficient 11-17, while shooting 11/11 from the free throw line.
The Pels also got great contribution from Jrue Holiday (22 points), Dante Cunningham (16 points on four made three-pointers) and Alexis Ajinca (10 points, eight rebounds).
Jon Leuer and Tobias Harris led the Pistons in scoring with 22 and 15 respectively, while Andre Drummond contributed 13 points and 17 rebounds in just 29 minutes.
The Pelicans bring home the San Antonio Spurs this Friday, March 3rd, at 8:30 pm central time, on ESPN.