Anthony Davis was rusty in his first game back, the opponent was 9-2 in their building and Tyreke Evans failed to make a field goal until the fourth quarter. The score ultimately did not reflect how dominant the Clippers were tonight. This was predicted to be a loss before it tipped off, but instead of bemoaning how horrendous the Pelicans looked, we were treated to the return of the complete Finishing Five.
The third quarter was predictably rough, and was where the Pelicans lost touch with the Clippers. After cutting the lead to 4 with 9:26 remaining, the Clippers went on a 19-5 run over the next 5:23. New Orleans had a chance to cut the lead to single digits at the end of third quarter but instead disastrous results ensued -- multiple attempts at the basket resulting in zero points. Then coming back the other way, a
screen cross body check by Jordan gave Chris Paul a wide open fifteen footer, as Jrue Holiday stared at the official in disbelief.
The fourth quarter was equally frustrating as the Pelicans committed multiple fouls on long jump shots, eliminating any chance at mounting an improbable comeback. Despite the size of the Clipper lead, Coach Williams elected to continue playing the Finishing Five. I approve of this strategy as continuity among this group of players needs to be forged.
The team has two days off to recover before playing at the Rose Garden. My opinion would be different (and was) if this was the first game of a back-to-back. No player outside of Ryan Anderson logged 36+ minutes.
First Half Notes
Officiating was rough throughout as the Pelicans were called for 6 more fouls and the Clippers attempted 13 more free throws. Towards the end of the second quarter, Coach Williams went into a timeout berating the officials for missing a push and/or throat punch on a Anthony Davis alley-oop attempt. On another separate occasion, Chris Paul fouled Davis on a lob (not called) then "dribbled" up court running deliberately into Davis twice. The second was called a hypothetical foul on Davis, which sent Paul to the line.
Jrue Holiday was quite efficient in the first half, putting up 9 points and 7 assists to go with zero turnovers. The offense in the first half of the second quarter stagnated as the Pelicans shifted the offensive focus on Ryan Anderson in the post against Steven Jackson. A similar plan tried against Golden State and Draymond Green proved equally futile. Despite struggling from the field and failing to get to the line, the Pelicans found themselves down only seven points at halftime.
Stats of Note
Tyreke Evans recorded his second career triple double, posting 11 points, 10 assists, and 13 rebounds. It was not a particularly pretty version of a triple double as he struggled from the floor, going 2-10. However, he did get to the line frequently, even if many of those attempts came after the game was in hand.
Anthony Davis put up 24 points and 12 rebounds in his first game since injuring his left hand back on December 1st. The exclamation point of the night was a put back jam at the end of the fourth quarter with his left hand. The hand appeared to be taped or wrapped around the palm but I did not notice any negative effects.
DeAndre Jordan recorded 14 points, 20 rebounds, and 5 blocks. The officials may have missed a foul or two committed.
The Clippers on the game attempted 16 more free throws than the Pelicans. There was only one intentional foul committed by New Orleans throughout the game.
The Pelicans play the Portland Trailblazers in the Rose Garden on Saturday at 9 PM Central. Like New Orleans, the Blazers played (and lost) tonight on the road and have two days to travel and recover. As usual, Portland head coach Terry Stotts leaned heavily on his starters tonight, with Damian Lillard, Wesley Mathews, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge all logging 39+ minutes. The Blazers are 10-2 in their building and their two losses came at the hands of Houston and Dallas.