Wednesday night's battle inside the New Orleans Arena between the Pelicans and the visiting Utah Jazz was a rematch for redemption for this young New Orleans squad who was humiliated on the road last week when the NBA's only winless team soundly defeated the Pelicans in Utah to log their first victory of the season.
Wednesday night, with the home crowd on their side, the Pelicans savored their revenge, defeating the Jazz 105-98.
"Our goal was to hold this team below 45 percent shooting from the field," head coach Monty Williams said. "We did that tonight, but a lot of things I'm seeing on defense we've got to get better at and we'll be a better team once we do that."
The Pelicans actually held Utah to 44.6 percent shooting from the field.
Perhaps the key to the game: the Pelicans 11-4 run to open the 4th quarter, which helped build an 11 point lead that New Orleans was able to sustain en route to its first back-to-back wins of the season.
Reserve forward Ryan Anderson contributed two solid 3-pointers in that initial 4th quarter run.
The savvy veteran admitted that his chipped toe is causing him pain, but Anderson says it's nothing he can't manage and play through. He and Tyreke Evans are proving to be a powerful force from the bench, combing for 41 points Saturday versus the 76ers and 27 points against the Jazz.
"That's what we need," Anderson said. "That's what Tyreke can bring to the game. He opened up the court for me. So I think that's something that we have to bring, that dynamic, especially me and Tyreke coming off the bench. We really have to bring a lot of energy and efficiency, and we just have to really play smart and play aggressive down the stretch. Our job is to come out and help that starting group if they're flat or don't come out as hot. Tyreke did a great job of that tonight."
The Pelicans took control of the game during that run to open the fourth quarter, powered with all reserves on the floor over the first 3:39 of the period, which resulted in an 84-73 lead for New Orleans. That was the Pelicans largest lead of the game to that point.
"It's nice to be able to plug guys in especially when the starters don't have their normal juice," Williams said. "I didn't think collectively the starters had it tonight. I thought Tyreke came in and gave us an edge. Ryan as well. I wouldn't call it a luxury yet because we're a work in progress. But it was nice to be able to go to the bench."
Starting forward Anthony Davis came dangerously close to notching a triple double, with his 22 points, 9 rebounds and 8 blocked shots. Tonight, he'll settle for another "W" for his team.
"We've just got to defend, and it starts with me,'' Davis said. "They came out shooting the ball a lot, but everybody defended the ball. Nobody really got beat off the dribble like we did in Utah. Nobody got open looks. We just had to change up our schemes a little bit and get back to how we were playing. When play defense, we're a tough team to beat.''
After missing the first 12 games of the season with a fractured right index finger, Jazz rookie and 9th overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, Trey Burke made his NBA debut Wednesday evening New Orleans. Burke recorded his first field goal with 3:43 remaining the first quarter. Burke ultimately shot 5-8 from the field with 11 points, but is yearning for the chance to play more minutes in the future.
"I understand it was a time restriction. I think that was the main reason why I didn't play as much as everyone expected me to play," Burke said. "That's how it is coming off of an injury. Coach wanted to shelter me a little bit so that I wasn't out there too long to where I was risking another injury. Then again, I think it was more about the time restriction that they had on the game. It was just like that tonight. I feel like we were in the game. We could've contained Ryan Anderson a little bit more. That was the biggest difference."