Pelicans Topple Magic In Elfrid Payton’s NBA Debut
Anthony Davis began his 3rd NBA season with a monster game, propelling the New Orleans Pelicans to a season opening 101-84 victory over Elfrid Payton and the Orlando Magic.
Davis came within 1 block of a triple-double, putting up a ridiculous stat line of 26 points, 17 rebounds, 9 blocks, 3 steals and 2 assists. Despite his outstanding play and a victory, the 21-year old phenom was his biggest critic.
"I missed three free throws and easy buckets around the rim," said Davis. "I kind of take that to heart."
If Davis thinks his performance as simply "alright", opposing teams don't want to be on the floor when he has a self-satisfactory performance.
Former Ragin' Cajun point guard Elfrid Payton made his NBA debut in his hometown Tuesday night, showing signs of a bright future.
"I felt good being able to play in front of my family and friends," said the 20-year old Payton. "It was cool."
Starting for the Magic, Payton dished out 7 assists, scoring 4 points and grabbing 5 boards in 31 minutes of work. While his shooting (2-8) was shaky, his command of the Orlando offense was impressive, as was his defense.
"I think he was overall solid tonight," said Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn. "He ran the team very well. Defensively, he was in the right place a lot of times for it being his first time out there (NBA debut). His composure was pretty good."
Payton's college coach shared a message about him as well.
The most impressive debut Tuesday night in New Orleans was that of Pelicans center Omer Asik.
Acquired in an offensive trade with the Rockets, Asik is known for his defense and rebounding. While he showed off both skills sets Tuesday night, he was also extremely effective with put backs and layups under the offensive glass, finishing 7-10 from the field for 14 points.
He registered a double-double within the first 19 minutes of the game, ending his Pelicans debut with 14 points, 17 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Asik and Davis are now the first tandem to register at least 15 points and 5 blocks in the same game since Tim Duncan and David Robinson did it for the Spurs 16 years ago.
"He spaced the floor for everybody," said Davis of Asik. "He's a load in the paint and gives us a lot of easy looks."
The Asik/Davis duo combined for 40 points, 34 rebounds, and 14 blocks.
While Asik debuted, power forward Ryan Anderson returned. After missing 60 games last year due to a frightening spine injury that required surgery for a herniated disc, Anderson finished the game with 22 points and 9 rebounds, making three consecutive 3-pointers late in the third quarter, helping the Pelicans gain their biggest lead of the night.
"My teammates did a great job of finding me in the third quarter," said the humble Anderson. "We played a great team game."
While eclipsing 100 points is a good sign for the offense, the other side of the ball excited head coach Monty Williams most.
"Overall, a great night for us," explained Williams. "To be able to get back on the floor, get a win, and do it on the defensive end is the good thing."
New Orleans gets a lengthy break (by NBA scheduling standards) before hosting the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night. Dallas (0-1) fell on the road to the defending champion Spurs tonight, 101-100.