Pelicans flying high without Demarcus Cousins


The New Orleans Pelicans warm up before facing off the Miami Heat at the Smoothie King Center Feb. 23 2018. The Pelicans are riding a sic game win streak and are now sitting as the fifth seed in the Western Conference. ALBERT DUPONT/The Maroon.

Andrew Lang

The Pelicans hosted the Houston Rockets on Friday, Jan. 28, with their two All-Stars, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, ready to take on one of the top powers in the NBA.

However, as the Pelicans walked off the court with a narrow 115-113 victory, their center Cousins ruptured his left Achilles tendon and hobbled off to the locker room with the help of teammates.

Without their second star, the rest of the team has to undergo dramatic changes to keep their season alive.

Cousins brought consistency to the organization. He took 2.8 shots out of the post per game this year, which landed him in the twelfth spot in the league. He also sat in second place for “and-one” opportunities which is a free-throw after a foul on a made shot.

Cousins not only converted on “and-one” opportunities, he had a fondness for getting to the line this season. He ranked third in the NBA in free throw attempts per game with 9.1 attempts.

In his absence, several team members helped to fill in those attempts with the team only shooting 2.4 less free throw attempts per game in the month of February than in January.

However, it has been his counterpart, Davis, who has held the team together towards success.

Davis has been the leading man as the Pelicans ride a seven-game win streak since the All-Star break, including a 53-point game versus the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 26.

During the streak, he has averaged 41.5 points and 14.8 rebounds and averages a league-high 35.9 points per game, 12.8 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.4 blocks through the month of February.

The Pelicans traded for talent to help keep the team’s momentum strong. The team received Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotić and signed center Emeka Okafor to two ten-day contracts.

In his brief New Orleans stint, Mirotić scored 15.5 points per game. He has not been as successful behind the line, only making 30.2 percent from the three-point line in those six games as opposed to the 42.9 percent he made for the Bulls this season.

Okafor, meanwhile, has made solid but unspectacular contributions. His main value is as a rebounder averaging 6.3 rebounds per game. Returning to the NBA from the Delaware 87ers, Okafor was brought on to help fill Cousins’ 20.2 rebound percentage.

With small attempts at rebuilding, the Pelicans now stand at the fifth place in the Western Conference, a bump from their eighth place standing before the All-Star game.

The streak and new additions have left the Pelicans in a good position with the postseason looming. They are on track to playing in the playoffs since the 2014-2015 season.