Pelicans.com postgame: Pelicans 101, Magic 82
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
ORLANDO – Monty Williams said prior to Friday’s preseason finale that his primary rotation players would not log heavy minutes, with Opening Night vs. Indiana approaching in just five days. Williams followed through by limiting all five starters to less than 20 minutes. During the brief stretches in which New Orleans’ regulars were on the floor, however, the Pelicans again looked like they may be ready for the real season.
When they exited the game midway through the third quarter, for instance, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis each had plus-minus ratios of at least +16. The Pelicans’ first string was dominant prior to giving way to backups. New Orleans (7-1) also did well with Tyreke Evans on the floor in his first game action since Oct. 5, outscoring Orlando by a whopping 23 points. Evans repeatedly got into the paint vs. the Magic and finished with six points, four rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes.
“He just adds another dimension to our rotation,” said Brian Roberts, who paced New Orleans with 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. “He’s able to bring the ball up and attack the rim. He’s just another weapon that we have. He’s going to make us that much better.”
“It’s all about building chemistry at this point,” Eric Gordon said after scoring 12 points in 13 minutes. “We know that (Evans will) definitely fit in with us. I’m looking forward to seeing him a lot more on the court.”
Evans (sprained left ankle) entered Friday’s game midway through the first quarter with the score deadlocked at 10. New Orleans immediately launched a 14-2 run behind accurate shooting by Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis. The Pelicans went 10-for-16 from the field in the opening period. The visitors expanded their advantage to as much as 14 points, before the Magic surged back to tie it by halftime.
New Orleans then quickly regained control with its starters on the court in the third quarter, going up by 73-58 entering the fourth.
The Pelicans enjoyed one of their finest offensive performances in what had already been a very good preseason. New Orleans made 52 percent of its field-goal attempts against Orlando, including a scorching 11-for-18 from three-point range.
The starting five rested for the bulk of the second half, giving way to a reserve group that was spearheaded by Roberts’ 16 points after intermission. Evans logged seven minutes in the second half after playing 10 in the first.
“It was good to get out there and kind of test the ankle,” Evans said. “It’s still sore, but I think it was good for me to test it out in a real game and see how it felt. I'm excited (for the regular season)... That's when we get to show people what kind of team we are. We've just got to go out there and prove it every night."