Author: Bryce Duhon

Pelicans Defeat Division Rival Without Anthony Davis

Even though Anthony Davis was not able to play due to a sprained finger, the Pelicans defeated the Memphis Grizzlies on January 21st. With a starting lineup of Elfrid Payton, Jrue Holiday, E’twaun Moore, Julius Randle, and Jahlil Okafor, the Pels were able to hand the Grizzlies a loss by a score of 105-85.

The lack of star-power did not bother the Pelicans, as 3 of their starters were able to produce a double-double. Holiday scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while also dishing out 6 assists. Both Randle and Okafor had 20 points and double-digit rebounds, with 12 and 10, respectively. 6th man Nikola Mirotic also had a solid game, scoring 21 points and bringing in 6 rebounds.

Their defense was surprisingly solid without their star center, holding the Grizzlies to the second-lowest score of their season.

The biggest weakness from the Pels was their bench scoring. Without including Mirotic, the Pelicans bench only contributed 8 points. Fortunately, it did not matter, as the Pelicans still came away with a convincing win.

Hopefully, the Pelicans can keep up these efforts, as they will be without Davis for at least 4 more games, and have some tough competition ahead.

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Saints Fans, Here’s What We Can Look Forward To Next Season

For Saints fans, January 20th will never be forgotten. The New Orleans Saints were one game away from punching their ticket into Super Bowl 53. Instead, they will be watching the big game from the comfort of their homes, as they were defeated by the Los Angeles Rams 26-23 in overtime. Whether it was because of god-awful officiating or god-awful officiating, the Saints lost. Yes, I put god-awful officiating twice. Yes, that is the reason the Saints lost. Moving on, the Saints are now left with one question: “What’s gonna happen next year?” Well, there sure is plenty to look forward to. Here are the three main things that Saints fans can expect next year.

1- A SIMILAR ROSTER

The Saints built plenty of their current starters from draft picks. In 2017, the Saints nailed the draft, drafting All-Pro tackle Ryan Ramzyck, and both the Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara and Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore. The year prior, they drafted 2x Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas. Due to these stars being so young, they are still on their rookie contracts, meaning they will be here for at least another year. The Saints also have one of, if not the greatest quarterback of all time in Drew Brees, who had a multi record-breaking year in 2018. Their defense is also stout, with stars like Sheldon Rankins, Cameron Jordan, and Demario Davis. The Saints have most of their roster locked up on multi-year contracts, meaning these same players will come back next season ready to prove themselves.

2- A WEAK NFC SOUTH

As if the fact that the Saints finished as the 1st seed wasn’t enough, the rest of the NFC South looked sub-par at best. The Carolina Panthers lost 7 of their last 8 after starting 6-2 on the year. Cam Newton, the Panthers star QB, may not even play next year, as the Panthers are considering sitting him the whole 2019 season. Although the Falcons were riddled with injuries, their play was still not to a usual Atlanta standard. Matt Ryan had a great year, but that could not make up for the below average play from most of the team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can be described in 1 word: dysfunctional. After beating the Saints 48-40 in the first game of the season, Ryan “Fitzmagic” couldn’t pull the rabbit out of the hat and lead the Bucs. They went 5-11 and just fired their head coach. If the Saints even half as good next season as they did this year, they will still dominate the South.

3- AN AGGRESSIVE AND MOTIVATED DEFENSE

When Rob Ryan took over the Saints defense a few years ago, everyone expected the Saints defense to be spectacular. Well, the Saints became the worst defense not only in the league but in league history. They still secured a 7-9 record, but their defense looked like middle schoolers trying to play with professionals. Then, in came Dennis Allen. Ever since Allen has taken over, the defense has become a unit to strike fear into opponents. The Saints had the second-rated run defense this season, allowing only 80.2 rushing yards per game. They also had 12 interceptions on the year. This means they can stop offenses on the ground and through the air. When the Saints usual explosive offense wouldn’t show up, the defense would not allow the other team to capitalize. With great physical and emotional leaders like Cam Jordan and Demario Davis, you can expect this Saints D to come out next year ready to feed on their opposition.

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Anthony Davis Suffers Sprained Finger, Out 1-2 Weeks

The Pelicans suffered a devastating blow during their January 18th loss to the Portland Trailblazers. Late in the 4th quarter of their 128-112 loss, Anthony Davis injured his finger, taped it up and tried to play through it.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t finish the game, exiting without return with less than 2 minutes remaining. Davis went through an X-Ray after the game to ensure no fractures. Thankfully, nothing is broken.

This year, AD is averaging 29.4 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game; these numbers are all career-highs. Davis has a history with injuries, missing plenty of games over his 5-year career. Anthony has only missed 5 games this year, due to elbow and ankle injuries. This newest injury could put him out anywhere from 4-8 games.

The Pelicans do not have the easiest schedule coming up either. They need to find a spark, as they are 4 games out of the playoffs as of January 19th. Hopefully, for the Pelicans, who truly count on Davis’ star power, Davis will come back sooner rather than later.

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Pelicans Look Impressive Despite Recent Loss

On January 16th, the Pelicans faced off against the defending Finals champions, the Golden State Warriors. After having a strong first quarter, in which they outscored the Warriors 39-31, the Pelicans struggled on the defensive side. The Pelicans kept up with the Warriors all night long, as they were only behind by 1 point going into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Warriors overpowered the Pels in the fourth and won the contest.

Although the Pelicans lost their most recent match-up, they have much been better in the new year. In their last 6 games, the Pelicans are 4-2. Two of their wins came by more than 15 points, one of them against division rival Memphis Grizzlies. They even had a game where they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers by 35 points. They also beat the Los Angeles Clippers, who are currently the 7th seed in the West. Neither of their losses was by more than 7 points.

Much of their recent success can be attributed to the fantastic play from stars Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. In January, Davis is averaging 33 points and almost 16 rebounds while shooting an efficient 51% from the field. Taking only the Pelicans wins in January into account, Davis is averaging 35 points per game and shooting an even better 58% from the field. He has also achieved a double-double every game for over a month. Holiday has scored 20+ points in 4 out of the 6 games. He also has a great three-point shooting stretch, shooting 42% from beyond the three-point line. Holiday is also playing that great defense he is known for.

Some success is also thanks to the return of Nikola Mirotic, who has come back from injury firing on all cylinders. On his first game back, Mirotic scored 17 points. In the Warriors game, Mirotic scored 29 points, his highest since October. Mirotic gives a great scoring spark off the bench, something the Pelicans desperately need due to their lack of bench depth.

The Pelicans must keep playing this type of basketball. They have a very tough schedule coming up, playing the Thunder, the Spurs, the Rockets, and the Nuggets in a 4-game stretch. With their tough upcoming schedule, the Pelicans can show their real talent if they play some good basketball against these top notch teams.

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Marshon Lattimore sends Saints to the NFC Championship

2:00 left in the 4th quarter. Eagles on the 27-yard line. The 4th quarter king Nick Foles is looking to complete another comeback. And then, here comes Marshon Lattimore, intercepting a pass intended for Alshon Jeffery, sealing the win for the New Orleans Saints.

After the Eagles took an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Saints had to find some way to gain some sort of momentum. Lattimore did just that, making a beautiful interception to give the Saints the ball back. Following the interception, the Saints marched down the field and scored their first touchdown of the game. This started a run that would eventually lead to 20 unanswered points and a Saints win.

Marshon finished the game with 2 beautiful interceptions to go along with four tackles and 2 pass deflections. Lattimore, 1 year removed from being the Defensive Rookie of the Year, showed up huge in the biggest game of the year and can hopefully build on this performance going into the NFC Championship next week against the Los Angeles Rams.

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