Since last week's 0 for 3 West Coast swing that saw the Pelicans play three games in three different cities in just four days, the team has had a much lighter schedule. They played only once since returning home. In that game, Monty Williams's young squad showed just how dominant it can be when firing on all cylinders for four quarters.
The Pelicans' Saturday night evisceration of the Philadelphia 76ers saw the team start fast and keep their foot on the gas all night. Anthony Davis might have had a triple-double on the night, but the game was so well in hand that he was pulled with three minutes to play... in the third quarter. Davis had only 13 points but chipped in nine rebounds and set a career high in blocks for the third time this season, this time swatting eight shots in only 29 minutes on the floor.
The game also saw the long-awaited return of Ryan Anderson, who came off the bench hot, knocking down his first three field goals including two from beyond the arc. Anderson finished the night 10 for 16 and 6 for 10 from the 3-point line. His 26 points led all scorers for the night and was incredibly efficient for his 27 minutes of playing time. In all, the Pelicans had eight players in double-figures When all was said and done, the Pelicans took home a 135-98 victory and perhaps teased what NOLA basketball fans can look forward to when this team fully gels as a cohesive unit.
For now, the Pelicans are 4-6 and resume play tonight against the 1-11 Utah Jazz, who are firmly in the basement of the Association, four games behind everyone else in the NBA in the loss column, but whose one win came a week ago against New Orleans in Utah.
Elsewhere in the West, the Portland Trail Blazers have quietly racked up seven straight wins. That's tied for the league lead along with the San Antonio Spurs, and at 9-2, they trail the 9-1 Spurs by only half a game in the conference. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the team with 22.6 points a night. Despite flying under the radar through the first 10th of the season, the Blazers will get to make some noise this Friday when they host the Bulls.
Out in the City of Angels, the Clippers continue to be the dominant franchise this season, but the Lakers are eyeing the return of Kobe Bryant. Bryant practiced full-speed in 5-on-5 drills on Tuesday for the first time since rupturing his Achilles tendon on April 12. Bryant said he could return to the Lakers lineup as soon as the end of November.
And out in the East, the NBA's final unbeaten team finally fell as the Indiana Pacers lost Saturday to the Bulls. Still, at 9-1, the Pacers sport a 1.5 game lead atop the conference with defending champion Miami as their nearest competition at 8-3. The conference as a whole can only boast five teams above .500, compared to nine in the West. The Pacers may not truly get tested until December, when they start the month with back-to-back road games against the Clippers and Trail Blazers.