New Orleans Pelicans: Grades for clutch win vs. Celtics

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Celtics: Grades for the guards

B. . Guard. New Orleans Pelicans. ERIC BLEDSOE

Eric Bledsoe’s uptick in play continued against the Celtics.

Since the trade deadline, Bledsoe is averaging 13 points per game on 40 percent shooting from three. He is also getting five assists while turning the ball over just once.

Three games is a small sample size, especially given how Bledsoe has struggled since arriving in New Orleans, but maybe knowing that he has to stay in the big easy at least until the end of the season has reinvigorated the former first-team all-defense guard.

If Bledsoe is making his threes, adding some playmaking, and competing on defense, he is valuable for the Pelicans. He hasn’t been doing that until now, but a good stretch until the end of the season would really help his team and restore his reputation around the league.

KIRA LEWIS JR.. A-. . Guard. New Orleans Pelicans

Kira Lewis Jr. should be getting more attention in NBA circles.

The rookie out of Alabama is having a great rookie season and doesn’t get talked about much, maybe because he plays in a small market like New Orleans. Still, Lewis pitched in against the Celtics with another very solid performance.

At this point, Lewis is mostly doing the same thing regularly. He gets around 20 minutes off the bench, adds dynamism and speed to the Pels, doesn’t make many mistakes, and is a willing outside shooter. Those three-pointers don’t always go in, but Lewis tied his career-high until now with three triples against the Celtics.

If Lewis can make those threes, that will really open up his dangerous driving game. He only needs a small crevice of space to get downhill and attack the rim despite his slender physique.

Another thing to point out is that Lewis rarely turns the ball over. He hasn’t had more than two turnovers all season long—none against the Celtics—while getting about two assists per game. That’s rare for a rookie.

light. Related Story. It's time to renew Pels season tickets

B+. . Guard. New Orleans Pelicans. NICKEIL ALEXANDER-WALKER

Nickeil Alexander-Walker celebrated his fifth consecutive start with 17 points and a team-high in plus/minus.

Alexander-Walker continues to start in the absence of Lonzo Ball, who is still out with a hip injury, and has filled in seamlessly. Stan Van Gundy has gotten some coaching decisions wrong this year, but he has really helped simplify Alexander-Walker’s game in a good way.

I’ll have an article coming out on the former Virginia Tech combo guard’s improvement later this week, but one thing that’s been key for Alexander-Walker is his three-pointer. He only went 3-for-9 from the perimeter against the Celtics, but he is now a constant floor spacer for the Pels and someone opponents need to watch out for.

The only downside to Alexander-Walker’s game in Boston was his defense. He played with good effort but found himself overwhelmed at times by the likes of Jayson Tatum or Marcus Smart simply because they were so much bigger and stronger than him.