One of the biggest keys to success in sports is the ability to make adjustments. Perhaps this is most prevalent in basketball, as it literally takes place on the fly.
The cellar dwellers of the NBA‘s Southwest and Pacific Division both struggled early as neither team shot over 40 percent from the floor in the first half. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was the lone bright spot for either team, constantly making himself known not only in the paint but on the wing, resulting in 12 points before the break. Early foul trouble plagued both Cousins (23 points and 12 rebounds) and teammate Rudy Gay, and the struggle of emerging point guard Isiah Thomas made it difficult for them to get into a rhythm.
Aided by spirited play from the Kings’ bench, he erased the stench from a 1-of-5 shooting performance, going 7-of-11 in the second half, finishing with 22 points and five assists. Backup point guard Ray McCallum (eight points) played a significant amount of time simultaneously with Thomas, which seemed to jump-start the offense. Reggie Evans‘ yeoman effort of 10 points and 13 rebounds was also a huge lift to the Kings, who entered play on a three-game losing streak.
Despite both teams’ places in the standings, the individual matchup of the best post players from the recent Kentucky Wildcats fraternity garnered a fair amount of attention. Cousins held up his end of the bargain, but Pelicans power forward/center Anthony Davis (13 points) struggled the majority of the night. Much of this probably stems from the left shoulder sprain he suffered last Wednesday in a 108-89 loss at the Dallas Mavericks, but he looked uncomfortable throughout much of the night, going 0-for-6 from the floor in the first half.
Versatile small forward Tyreke Evans continues to shine against the Kings, recording 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the loss, his second straight against his former team.
The Pelicans (23-37) are 0-5 on their West Coast swing with one game remaining against the Los Angeles Lakers and are on an overall eight-game skid, the longest current string in the Western Conference.