Anthony Davis' outstanding season has the New Orleans Pelicans hoping to finally gain traction in the Western Conference, but an inability to work the offense through their big man in their latest loss has Monty Williams concerned.
They'll look to get Davis considerably more involved Friday night as they continue a road-heavy stretch against the Atlanta Hawks.
Davis took only 12 shots Tuesday, hitting four, and finished with 14 points - all season lows - as New Orleans posted its second-lowest point total of the season in a 99-89 loss to Sacramento.
The Pelicans (7-6) combined for just 15 assists, tying their second-lowest mark at home over the past three seasons. In its seven wins this season, New Orleans has averaged 23.7 assists.
"It's part of teaching guys how to win," Williams said. "That was a big message to our team today. Anthony cannot be in a game and not touch the ball. We have to have an effort to get him at least 20 shots, every night.
"(Davis) isn't a selfish player. He's going to make the right play, and our guys know that. We just have these blips on the screen."
New Orleans is 1-4 this season when Davis makes fewer than 10 field goals.
Tyreke Evans scored 22 points to lead the Pelicans on Tuesday, but he also committed a season-high five turnovers. New Orleans has shot 42.4 percent over the past three games - 24.0 percent from 3-point range - and now continues a stretch of nine of 11 on the road.
"That was a big discussion we had here today," Williams said Wednesday. "We shouldn't have to coach effort. And the guys here, to a man, all agreed that wasn't the kind of effort we want to show our fans and show each other."
Atlanta (7-6) lost 126-115 to Toronto on Tuesday in the opener of a four-game homestand.
Jeff Teague scored 24 points and is averaging 25.8 over his last four, while Al Horford tied his season high with 11 field goals (23 points). But the Hawks allowed their most points at home since Brooklyn scored 127 on Jan. 16.
"For a lot of the night, we were good," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "But you have to do it for 48 minutes against a good team. So a test like tonight is good for us. We'll get better from it."
Atlanta has allowed 104.3 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting, both of which rank toward the bottom of the NBA. The Hawks' offense, though, has executed in a fashion New Orleans hopes to emulate.
The Hawks rank in the top ten in both points per game (103.5) and field-goal percentage (46.6), due in large part to their 24.3 assists per game - also among the league's best.
"They play together," Williams said of Atlanta. "They share the ball. You have to have great multiple-effort defensive plays."
New Orleans has won three straight against the Hawks, and Davis had no trouble making an impact in last season's victories - albeit with Horford sidelined. After posting 27 points in a February home win, he had 34 in a 111-105 victory at Philips Arena on March 21.
Teague had 26 in that loss.