Winning generates recognition.
So, it’s no coincidence New Orleans Pelicans’ forward Anthony Davis was named Western Conference Player of the Week after his team won three of its past four games, including lopsided wins over the respected Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
Davis carried a versatile Pelicans’ attack, averaging 29.5 points, converting an efficient 58.6 percent of his attempts. The All-NBA selection also posted 12.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 blocks per game during the four-game stretch.
It was a natural choice, considering Davis led the Western Conference in total points scored (118), total field goals made (41) and shooting percentage (of qualified players). Additionally, he ranked fourth in rebounds (50) and blocks (five).
It’s the third time he’s achieved the honor in his six-year career, and he joins fellow Pelicans’ big man DeMarcus Cousins in earning Player of the Week this season. It’s the first time a pair of New Orleans teammates have earned that distinction in the same season since Chris Paul and David West accomplished it in 2008-09.
“We are playing with great confidence right now,” Davis said. “We are playing with a lot of pace and (point guard Rajon) Rondo has really made some great reads for us and telling us what to do. Our confidence is very high and we are playing at a high level. We just have to keep it going.”
OMER IS ON
Omer Asik returned to the court for the first time in nearly 11 months and scored six points during last week’s blowout win over the Phoenix Suns.
The center was sidelined by a case of Ankylosing Spondylitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome which formed during a trip to Mexico over February’s All-Star break. It took months to discover a cure and allow Asik to even return to the practice floor.
He lost more than 30 pounds and it was unclear if he would ever take the court again. So, Pelicans players were happy to celebrate Asik’s performance
“It was definitely good,” Davis said. “He did a lot of work to get back on the court and play with us. To see him on the floor, making plays and scoring, getting rebounds, it was a lot of fun to watch. And we were happy to cheer him on.”
It provided an uplifting moment to coach Alvin Gentry, who said Asik’s story has been underplayed.
“It’s been amazing,” Gentry said. “I don’t think they realize where he was. He lost 30 pounds and still didn’t quite know what was happening with his body or what was going on. Then, for him to be back where he is right now and be able to play a few minutes the other night was great. … He’s worked extremely hard to get back to where he is.”
Rondo finished 0-for-9 from the field in the Pelicans’ loss to Golden State on Saturday, but Gentry said the point guard’s style is far more important than his stat line.
“I don’t really look at his stats, and I don’t really care to be honest with you,” Gentry said. “I know the impact he has on the team and he’s not going to go 0-for-9 shooting every night. But, he can go 0-for-9 and still have a huge impact on the game, and I think that’s special.”
Davis said the most obvious factor is Rondo’s insistence in cranking up the Pelicans’ pace, particularly off of defensive rebounds and turnovers.
The numbers back it up. Since Rondo returned to regular minutes from a left core muscle injury, New Orleans ranked fifth in the NBA in possessions per game (102.5) while posting the league’s fourth-best defensive efficiency over the past four games.
“He wants everyone to run and get those early looks in transition and get some fast break points,” Davis said. “He wants to make the defense be honest. Anytime he’s in, after a make or a miss, he’s trying to get us those easy looks.”