AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — After dropping below .500 early in the week, the New Orleans Pelicans needed a needed a spark, anything to avoid falling on the road, again.
Fortunately, the Pistons were there to provide the help. And New Orleans was quick to take advantage.
Behind a strong start to the game and an plus-17 rebounding margin, the Pelicans defeated a hot Detroit team 105-94 at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday night.
“We played the right way,” said Pelicans coach Monty Williams, whose team moved to 19-19 on the season. “Our guys were involved and we were running our offense.”
Missing starting point guard Jrue Holiday with a right ankle injury, and having traded away Austin Rivers on Monday, the Pelicans lacked guard depth Wednesday.
But it was the big men, Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, who picked up the slack in their absence. Davis finished with another double-double (27 points and 10 rebounds), while Anderson added 17 points.
It was by no means the Pelicans’ best basketball of the season, but the Pistons’ struggled to shoot, hang on to the ball and rebound from the opening tip. Detroit, who had won nine of the past 10 entering the game, shot 46.6 percent from the field, including 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Against the likes of Detroit prominent players in the paint, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, New Orleans managed to eliminate them from making an impact. The Pelicans won the battle on the glass 47-30, holding the Pistons to three offensive rebounds the entire game.
“It just means guys are locked into the game plan,” Williams said. “If we locked into our game plan and execute to a 70-80 percent clip, we can beat anybody. I firmly believe that.”
Added guard Eric Gordon: “They’re probably the most energetic, athletic bigs in our league, so we knew we had to rebound against them.”
It was nearly over before the second half ever began, as the Pelicans jumped out to a 36-18 before the buzzer. And as Detroit attempted to make a run in the second half, newly acquired forward Quincy Pondexter stepped up to put the game away.
Pondexter’s nine points were by no means overwhelming, but his two 3-pointers in the third quarter stopped Detroit momentum. His defense, though, may have been the biggest help, shutting down guards Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks late in the game.
“It was a lot of fun,” Pondexter said. “The hard part is done. Basketball has been my safe haven. … I don’t care about scoring, I just care about winning games. If we’re doing that, shots will come.”
Added Williams: “He understands how to move his feet, he understands concepts. I think him and Dante gave us an edge at that spot.”
The Pelicans, despite their success, turned the ball over 12 times and shot 48.8 percent from the field, as they worked without Holiday. Before the game, Williams said Holiday would “hopefully” be day-to-day.
In his place, Gordon and Tyreke Evans filled in, combing for 25 points. Gordon saw the majority of time at point, relieved for Jimmer Fredette.
Still, the game marked a team effort the team had not seen in Boston one weak prior. It was enough to keep the locker room light and Williams wearing a smile on his face.
“We just have to know what it takes and do it. It’s not like we’re playing bad teams,” Williams said. “We’re playing really good teams. All of our guys know that they want to do it. We just gotta put some games together.”