After getting a bucket midway through the second quarter, Pelicans guard Tim Frazier clapped his hands while he backpedaled and stared down Hawks guard Dennis Schroder: he knew he was locked in.
For the first three quarters in Tuesday’s game at Philps Arena, Frazier took it upon himself to handle the scoring load for New Orleans (5-10). He had 21 points and shot seven-of-12 and helped the Pelicans establish a lead that grew to as large as 35 in their 112-94 win over Atlanta (9-5).
“He made shots,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He’s kind of an attacking, penetrating guard and when he starts sprinkling in a three, a couple threes here and there, and making jump shots, that kind of opens up everything for him. I thought he shot the ball really well tonight. And credit to him, some of them were tough looks, some were open, but once he starts making jumpers, and that really opens up his game.”
When Frazier wasn’t creating his own shot, he was setting up his teammates. He had 14 assists that accounted for 31 of the Pelicans’ points. In the fourth quarter, he didn’t attempt a single shot, but had five dimes to help New Orleans close out the victory.
Frazier’s ability to get others involved throughout the night was a major difference. He assisted on eight of E’Twaun Moore’s 15 points and provided the pass on two of Moore’s three three-pointers.
What might have been the thing that took Frazier’s game over the top however, was that he had just one turnover against a Hawks and the defense that leads the NBA in steals and turnovers by opponent.
“The shots fell for me, but all the credit goes to my teammates as far as the assists go,” Frazier said. “They knocked down shots. They were in the right positions. They did all the work. I just passed them the ball.”
One of the players who didn’t get to fully take advantage of Frazier’s giving ways was power forward Anthony Davis who was in the locker room for half the game with a right knee contusion.
Without one of the NBA’s leading scorer and the team’s leader in minutes, Frazier took control of the ship and was a plus-19 while playing a game-high 35 minutes.
“It’s strange how that works in the NBA, when your best players goes down or leaves the game, other guys out there try to prove a point,” forward Paul Millsap said.
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