Tonight on CSN: Pelicans' newcomers must step up

Tonight on CSN: Pelicans' newcomers must step up
December 1, 2013, 9:45 pm
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Mark Strotman

The Bulls return home to the United Center tonight on Comcast SportsNet to take on the New Orleans Pelicans. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, hosted by Mark Schanowski and Will Perdue. After the game stick with CSN for Bulls Postgame Live, as we bring you highlights, locker room interviews and analysis on the game.

Perhaps no team made more under-the-radar offseason acquisitons with such meaningful impact than the New Orleans Pelicans.

After going 27-55 in Anthony Davis' first season -- the reigning Rookie of the Year suffered a fracture in his left hand last night in New York and is out indefinitely -- the Pelicans stayed busy in the offseason, looking to upgrade at certain positions while youth around them improved. It began on draft night, when the Pelicans sent the rights to No. 6 pick Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for point guard Jrue Holiday (and a second-round pick in 2013).

A week later the Pelicans were back at it, sending center Robin Lopez to the Portland Trail Blazers in a three-team deal that netted them restricted free agent Tyreke Evans.

Only time will tell if the trades made long-term sense -- Noel is recovering from ACL surgery and may miss his entire rookie season -- but the moves injected some life into the franchise, giving them their first real point guard of note since the days of Chris Paul.

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And the results have been positive thus far. Though Evans has struggled statistically and Holiday's numbers are down from his All-Star campaign in Philadelphia a year ago, the Pelicans are a respectable 8-8 and fighting early for a playoff spot in the ultra-talented Western Conference.

Now, though, they'll need Holiday to step up and return to his All-Star form and Evans to show some of the flash he had in Sacramento while Davis sits on the sideline.

They took a good first step Sunday night. After losing Davis early in the contest, Evans had the best game of his New Orleans career, scoring 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with seven assists and four steals. Ten of those points came in a fourth quarter in which the Pelicans hung on to beat the struggling Knicks, 103-99. Holiday struggled with efficiency, making just 5 of 12 shots and turning the ball over five times, but he did manage to score 11 points and hand out nine assists.

Though there is talent on the Pelicans roster, namely stretch-forward Ryan Anderson and athletic shooting guard Eric Gordon. But the newcomers in New Orleans have a chance to put their mark on the season now that Davis, who was averaging 19.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals and an NBA-best 3.9 blocks per game, is gone.

See if the Bulls can slow down Evans, Holiday and the rest of the 76ers tonight on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. And make sure you stay interactive throughout the game by checking out Bulls Pulse. Join the interaction by using #BullsTalk on Twitter.