The New Orleans Pelicans have won seven straight games and Anthony Davis is why.
Everyone thought that after the DeMarcus Cousins injury, the Pelicans would falter and slip out of the playoffs. Davis is not letting that happen.
“We’re very close,” Davis told to Nola.com. “When (Cousins) went down, we had to become even more close because guys had to step up. This is probably one of the closest teams I’ve ever been on. … These guys really like each other. They like playing with each other. When we have a team like that, we can be tough to beat.”
The month of February was a historic one for Davis. During the seven-game win streak, Davis averaged 39.3 points and 15.0 rebounds. He became the fifth player in the history of the NBA to average 35 points and 15 rebounds during a seven-game win streak, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Moses Malone.
Anthony Davis in the month of February, in the absence of DeMarcus Cousins:
53 points, 17 rebounds, 5 blocks
45 points, 17 rebounds, 5 blocks
44 points, 17 rebounds
43 points, 10 rebounds
42 points, 15 rebounds
38 points, 10 rebounds
38 points, 9 rebounds
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) February 28, 2018
During the Pelicans 125-116 win over the Phoenix Suns, Zach Lowe of ESPN noticed that Davis’ basketball IQ has finally caught up with his athleticism.
On Monday night against Phoenix, Davis was guarding Dragan Bender when the Suns put him through a pick-and-pop. Davis corralled Devin Booker, who whipped the ball back to Bender behind the 3-point arc. Bender caught it, saw Davis recovering toward him, and unleashed a pump fake. Davis stayed down, and kept sliding toward Bender with one hand up. Bender, unnerved, shuffled his feet — a travel. Davis let out of a roar and clapped his hands.
A year ago, would Davis have leapt at that pump fake? Would he have cared quite so much about forcing a stop? It was one of those moments that stick out when a player makes another leap.
Another trick Davis has mastered: When teams switch little guys onto him, he doesn’t laze into a rote post-up 15 feet from the rim — at least not every time. Instead, he digests the mismatch, bides his time, and darts to the rim to catch a lob.
The Pelicans currently sit fifth in the Western Conference and will make the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15 season.
The Pelicans look for their eighth-straight today against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas at 7:00 pm. A win would make them 10 games over .500 for the first time since 2011.
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