As described by Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, the explanation to the New Orleans Pelicans’ suddenly upgraded defense isn’t complex.
Prior to their dominant 128-113 win Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets, the Pelicans’ amended defense shut the door on Orlando and Miami for consecutive wins on Dec. 22-23. New Orleans did not allow 100 points in either win and restricted both teams to exactly 42.4 percent shooting from the floor.
The Pelicans' defense ranks second-to-last in the NBA in points allowed per game at 110.8 before Wednesday's game against the Nets.
So, what changed?
Let Davis and Holiday articulate.
“Effort,” Holiday said Wednesday morning. “Rebounding. Rebounding’s a big part of it. Effort. Executing the game plan. Running them off the 3s and trying to make them shoot tough 2s at the rim.”
“Playing hard,” Davis added. “Playing for each other. Talking. That’s really it. When we lock down defensively like that, we’re a tough team to beat. I think we were ranked one and five in those two games. We were just playing hard, flying around, trusting each other and talking.”
A long-time point guard and now Pelicans’ slashing star utility guard, Holiday was asked by reporters how the fortified defense contributes to a more effective offense. New Orleans shot 50 percent or better from the field in each game and averaged 110 points in the pair of wins.
“Last couple games, it just felt kind of easy,” Holiday said. “The flow was great. Obviously, people just dug in on people and got to touch the ball a lot and that makes everybody feel good. Team effort.”
After Wednesday’s game, the Pelicans will complete a three-game homestand against the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Nike's "City" Edition uniforms released
Nike unveiled new “City” Edition uniforms Wednesday morning for 26 NBA franchises, releasing the company's fourth and final official NBA jersey tailored specifically to individual cities and cultures.
New Orleans’ new uniforms maintained a festive flare, colored in Mardi Gras’ green, yellow and purple to represent the city's “bold” colors. The jersey reads “NOLA” in lively block lettering across the front and is coupled with uneven numbering, meant to capture the city’s distinct “energy."
“The New Orleans Pelicans City Edition uniform celebrates the vibrant life of NOLA during Mardi Gras,” a statement from Nike read in a news release. “Bold colors represent power, faith and justice, and "dancing" numbers reproduce the city's energy. The neckline takes inspiration from classic Carnival ducal decoration. These uniforms are only worn during the Carnival season.”
The 2017-18 season is Nike’s first as the NBA’s official oncourt apparel provider and global merchandising and marketing partner, a pricey collaboration reported to be worth roughly $1 billion, according to ESPN when the deal was announced in 2015.
“These designs honor the fans — those who, 41 times a year, take pilgrimage at their local arena, and whose passions help define each respective team’s identity,” according to the press release.