Heat will face Pelicans’ struggling Twin Towers of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis for first time

 

The pairing of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis has not translated into many wins for New Orleans. (Getty Images)

MIAMI – The New Orleans Pelicans were expected to climb in the Western Conference standings when DeMarcus Cousins was acquired from Sacramento in mid-February.

Pairing the 6-foot-11 Cousins with the 6-10 Anthony Davis, two players averaging more than 25 points and 10 rebounds a game, was going to cause opponents’ fits.

But something happened on the road to challenging the Warriors and the Spurs in the West.

The Pelicans were 23-34, 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the West the day the deal was made. They entered Tuesday’s game against Portland having lost 6-of-9 since the trade and falling to 5.5 games behind No. 8 Denver.

New Orleans will face the surging Heat (32-35) Wednesday, a team that has won 21-of-26 to pull to within a half game of the final playoff spot in the East.

“Rome wasn’t built in one day,” Heat guard Dion Waiters said about the Pelicans. “You got two dominant forces down there who need the ball. Between them somebody’s got to make a sacrifice. They’re figuring that out. There’s only one basketball.”

Waiters knows what it is like to join a new team and require time for things to click.

It happened this year, when he came to Heat and wasn’t the player for the first month that he became after returning from an injury in early January.

“Even though I went through training camp and I did everything, it’s still about figuring out when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive, what guys like to do, where a guy likes the ball,” he said. “Then I was able to get comfortable.”

The reason. …

“It just so happens I’m on a team with a bunch of unselfish guys. We don’t really care who gets the ball on this team. We built that chemistry.

“I know them guys are probably close, they talk, they went to the same school (Kentucky), but you still got to build that chemistry on the court. Once they build that chemistry and one sacrifices for the better of the team that could be a scary team down the line.”

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But nobody has been scared of the Pelicans since the Twin Towers were formed. Although they are the highest scoring and rebounding duo in the league it has not translated into wins.

The two combine for 55 points per game (Davis at 28.1) and 22.6 rebounds (Davis at 11.8) but New Orleans’ scoring has dipped since the trade, from 103.4 points per game to 99.9 and its rebounding has increased by just one per game.

Still, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is preparing for the team everyone thought would take off after the trade.

“It’s unique,” he said. “It’s like old-school NBA of the ‘90s. Their skill sets allow that to happen. Both of them can play on the perimeter. Either one of them can play down low. They’re a load.”

The Heat have played against both this year with mixed success. In two games against Miami while with the Kings, Cousins is averaging 21.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 12-of-31 from the field. Center Hassan Whiteside did not play in the game at Sacramento in which Cousins was held to 13 points and six rebounds.

Davis dominated the Heat with 28 points and 22 rebounds in the teams’ lone meeting this year, a 91-87 Pelicans win in New Orleans.

While Whiteside said Davis is “a lot quicker” and “a lot more you got to deal with” than Cousins, he added the Pelicans will have to adjust to the Heat, too.

One of the bigs will be forced to guard Luke Babbitt, the Heat’s power forward who is shooting 60 percent on 3s in his last 14 games.

“We’re not going to get too caught up in their front court,” Whiteside said. “They got to worry about us, too. They got to worry about our guards and what we bring.”

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