New Orleans Pelicans Grades: Pels Dominate Denver Nuggets

Mar 26, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) defends as New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) drives to the net in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Pelicans won 115-90. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) defends as New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) drives to the net in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Pelicans won 115-90. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Even without star center DeMarcus Cousins, the New Orleans Pelicans dominated the Denver Nuggets on the road for a must-win for their playoff hopes.

The New Orleans Pelicans came into tonight facing a must-win game in Denver.

It would end in a convincing 25-point victory for the Pels.

One of the issues coming into tonight was the Denver Nuggets’ lethal scoring and offensive rebounding. However, the Nuggets shot just 37.9 percent from the field. They also only grabbed eight offensive boards, while New Orleans finished with 10. While Denver’s offense crumbled, the Pelicans balanced scoring shined bright.

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All 11 Pelicans who saw the floor tonight made at least one basket from the floor. That includes six Pels, three off the bench, who would finish with at least 10 points in the game. New Orleans as a team shot 49.5 percent from the field and made nine of their 27 attempts from long range.

The Pelicans were led by superstar Anthony Davis. Last time Davis played the Nuggets, he had 50 points and 15 rebounds. This time, Davis had 31 points and 15 rebounds in just 28 minutes of play. To say that A.D. has been dominant against the Nuggets is an understatement. With two more games left against Denver, that will be vitally important for the Pels’ playoff chances.

69. Final. 90. 73. 115

B. After a pitiful showing last game, Tim Frazier certainly made up for it tonight. Frazier finished with 11 points, eight assists and a steal. Most importantly, his pesky defense gave issues to the Nuggets’ backcourt all game. He looked deserving of his spot in the starting lineup tonight. He still will have to repeat his effectiveness tomorrow.. PG. . TIM FRAZIER

B+. Jrue Holiday had a great effect on the game in different areas than usual. Holiday finished the game with 13 points on 12 shots, to go with seven assists and six rebounds. The aggression from Jrue was good at times, yet lacking other times. However, it seemed that Jrue was getting his teammates set up to attack instead of himself. His defense was strong as usual. Overall good game from Jrue.. PG. . JRUE HOLIDAY

SF/PF. . SOLOMON HILL. C+. Solomon Hill was once again great on defense and almost non-existent on the offensive end. This has been a constant repeat from Solo all season. This offseason has to be a period for Hill to fix that issue, if he wants to keep a starting small forward spot in this league.

DANTE CUNNINGHAM. B. Dante Cunningham did not put up massive shooting stats, but really got his work done on put-backs tonight. Two different occasions, Dante made an offensive rebound. He only made three shots on the night, so it was an important part of his game. So was the eight boards and two blocks in the game. He does the intangibles for this team and was a major part of their superb defense all game.. PF/SF.

. ANTHONY DAVIS. A+. Boy, Anthony Davis REALLY likes playing against the Nuggets. He is averaging more points than minutes played against Denver this year and has brought down 15 rebounds in both games. Davis is a force the Nuggets have no answer for and got New Orleans a massive win for their playoff hopes. When the lights come on, A.D. gets it done. Plain and simple.. C/PF

B+. Jordan Crawford once again put up double-digit points off the bench. What was more impressive was Crawford’s seven assists and five rebounds in just 24 minutes. While many see Craw as just a shooter, he is starting to make a difference in other areas. That includes defense, even if it is a work in progress. Fantastic signing indeed.. SG. . JORDAN CRAWFORD

SF/SG. . E'TWAUN MOORE. B. In a game that comes down to team defense, it is impossible to forget about E’Twaun Moore. Bigger than that, Moore put up 12 points on top of his fantastic defensive effort. Moore is one of those guys that fills in the holes of a team that has starters lacking offensive capabilities.

B. Donatas Motiejunas got major minutes tonight, in light of Boogie’s injury. He sure did deliver. Donuts put up 11 points and eight rebounds for the Pelicans, against a team that is known for attacking the offensive glass and opposing big men’s shots at the rim. He looked comfortable in the pace of this game and finally showed his offensive capabilities, when given space inside.. PF/C. . DONATAS MOTIEJUNAS

Alexis Ajinca’s numbers will not show it, but he was the defensive catalyst for the New Orleans Pelicans running away with this game. He finished with eight points and seven rebounds, but his work on the Nuggets’ centers near the rim got the Pelicans running in transition and the game at their pace. The unsung hero got the job done in just 19 minutes of play.. C. . ALEXIS AJINCA. B+

Final Thoughts:

  • Quinn Cook and Chieck Diallo both played four minutes of garbage time. It’s great to see the youngsters find the floor and show their stuff. Both made a look and Cook specifically looked full of energy on the floor.
  • This game made a statement to the NBA. The New Orleans Pelicans are not ready to give in. More so, they are looking like a team that has chemistry. DeMarcus Cousins did not play, yet had fun with his teammates on the bench enjoying the show. This is no longer a roster of two stars. This is a team. While this year may not result in a playoff run, the foundation going forward is being built.

Next: Five Free Agent Targets for New Orleans Pelicans: Part One

The New Orleans Pelicans will look to keep the wins coming, as they travel to Utah tomorrow. They will play the Jazz on the second of a road back-to-back. Tip is on schedule for 9:30 p.m. CST.