Anthony Davis is the real deal! He dominated the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, scoring 34 points and pulling down 11 rebounds to lead all scorers and guiding the New Orleans Pelicans to a 111-105 win at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta, who had hoped to extend their five game winning streak, led the game at the end of the third quarter but went cold in the fourth and suffered from some poor decisions on both ends of the floor. The Hawks defense was not disciplined and the Pelicans took full advantage of their visits to the foul line on the night draining 35 of 43 opportunities.
While the Hawks could point to several aspects of their own game as the reason for the loss it was Anthony Davis who dictated the game's outcome by being hugely influential at both ends of the court. He scored 34 points but also pulled down 11 rebounds, 9 of which were defensive thereby robbing the Hawks of valuable second chance opportunities.
Late in the third and early in the fourth quarters, Davis was helped by an unlikely colleague; Luke Babbitt who hadn't played at all in the first half entered the game with less than a minute left in the quarter and the Pelicans down by five. Babbitt’s first contribution was an assist and then he drained a three point jump shot to reduce the Hawks’ lead to two.
In the fourth quarter Babbitt went three of five including two more three pointers that changed the complexion of the game including the go-ahead points at the start of the quarter.
In the fourth, Babbitt’s 8 points supported Davis’s 13 and resulted in a 42 point quarter for the Pelicans giving the Pelicans a much needed road win that took them to 28-40 on the season while the Hawks dropped to 31-36.
Hawk head coach Mike Budenholzer said after the game, “We weren’t as good as we need to be defensively. At the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter, our defense didn’t execute. We didn’t get stops. Luke Babbitt hurt us. He made a couple of big shots that changed the game. Obviously Anthony Davis was very good all night.”
Pelican head coach Monty Williams added, “Props to him (Babbitt) for being able to come right into the game cold and being able to knock down the shot.”
Jeff Teague acknowledged Babbitt’s role, “He came out playing at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth. He made some big shots. The team stretched the floor for him. That’s what changed the game.”
Babbitt’s role was significant but Anthony Davis was the dominant force. He played more than 44 minutes, was physical on defense and showed considerable poise and finesse on offense. Building a team around Davis should provide the Pelicans with a bright future.
Up next for the Pelicans is a home game against the Heat on Saturday night while the Hawks travel to Toronto for a game on Sunday against the Raptors.