Pelicans Continue to Shock, Clip L.A. 98-96

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Post-CP3, can anyone name a better week than the one we're currently enjoying?

And the magical ride continues.

In the two prior meetings, the Clippers have owned the Pelicans, essentially mopped the floor with us. Then, about an hour before tip-off, it was announced that Brian Roberts (leg) and Austin Rivers (illness) would be joining Eric Gordon on the sidelines. Nine healthy players and two legitimate guards up against a team with 50 wins and attempting to win for the 14th time in 15 tries. A team, that if I'm not mistaken, was attempting to set a franchise record for the most games above .500.

To steal a very popular phrase, no problemo.

Along with both Anthony's, Monty Williams started the Unholy Trio for the second straight game. Almost immediately, the Clippers began to amass a bunch of easy points. Then, to make matters worse, Anthony Davis picked up his second foul with 5:51 remaining on a very questionable call. Down 2 points, fans were prepared for the worst. However, the deluge never came. Greg Stiemsma sat down less than a minute after Davis and the deficit was only 4. In the final five minutes of the quarter, the Pelicans scored 13 points from a host of players. But the star of the first quarter was undoubtedly Morrow. Out of our first 21 points, he had 11 and none of them of the 3 point variety.

To start the second quarter, Tyreke Evans was back out there. Considering a complete lack of other available point guards, was Monty contemplating on playing him the entire game? And to add further fuel to the fire, the Clippers smartly began pressuring Evans full-court about mid-way through the first frame. At the current rate, he might have ended up gassed before halftime. But a funny thing happened. Whether by design or not, Darius Miller took over some of the ball-handling duties. When Evans was being denied entry passes, Miller started to bring the ball up the floor. No, he didn't go all Rajon Rondo and start dropping dimes left and right but he got the job done: get the ball up the floor, the team into their offense and avoid careless turnovers. With 7:07 remaining, Evans got his first rest. Nope, no hiccups. Miller, along with some timely help by Aminu, was able to navigate the floor without Chris Paul wreaking havoc.

With 1:28 left, the Pelicans found themselves up 55-47. They had weathered the early Davis foul trouble and Evans needing a break. Morrow had 20 points and the team was collectively playing superb basketball. But to close out the quarter, the Clippers went on a 5-0 run. With a meager positive margin of only 3 at the half, there was the dreaded feeling the good run may be over. The Pelicans had dominated inside with a +10 rebounding advantage and a +16 points in the paint. With similar fast break points and turnover numbers, the lead seemed it should have been larger. And now Doc Rivers had an opportunity to make adjustments and motivate his team?

{Insert worried face.}

Sure enough, out of halftime, Doc switched Matt Barnes onto Evans, while hiding CP3 on Aminu. Oh, and of course the Unholy trio were assembled again. Not surprisingly, the Pelicans managed to add just two AD free throws to the scoring column in the first 3:42. The Clippers were up 4 and in prime position to take control of the game. But it never happened. Between Davis' erasing 6 shots (!) in the quarter (plus swiping 2 others) and plenty of other missed jumpers and free throws, the L.A. high octane offense wasn't able to put the ball through the hoop at their accustomed rate. So, in the final 3:54, the Pelicans outscored the Clipper 12-8 to seize a 1 point lead headed to the fourth.

The final frame began with a 12-6 spurt by New Orleans and Ajinca lead the charge with 6 points. Doc called timeout and quickly got his starters back in. With 3-point specialist Jamal Crawford sitting at 26 points and Griffin and Paul joining him on the floor, the Clippers were primed to make a run. In less than three minutes, they did just that, whittling the lead to a precious one again with 5:01 remaining. But they were never able to fully get over the hump. The ball was bouncing our way, Paul couldn't make a field goal and suddenly Crawford went cold. Throw in a Barnes technical, Griffin was left all alone to do the heavy lifting. He managed 5 points down the stretch but a Pelican matched him. No, it wasn't Davis. Nor Evans. Try seldom used Darius Miller! The former Wildcat drilled a three out of a timeout then several minutes later, hit another jump shot. Seriously, DARIUS MILLER!

Regardless, in typical Pelican fashion, this game wasn't over until the final buzzer. Griffin had an opportunity to tie the game but missed the FT on an And-1 opportunity. A second later, Davis was able to only convert 1 of 2 from the charity stripe. Would the Clippers go for the tie or the win? With Paul not able to find a driving lane, they chose win on the shoulders of Crawford. Fortunately, Miller forced a difficult look and Crawford was off the mark.

Pelicans WIN!

Game Notes

- Normally we start with our own, but with Chris Paul setting a franchise record for the Clippers worst FG% (0-12) in a game, he gets to go first. The record had been 0-11 by several players. Not anymore!

- Anthony Davis impacted the game tonight, but for a change, it wasn't with an overabundance of points: 16 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists (how about that sequence where he blocked a Crawford jumper, sprinted down the floor to catch a full-court outlet pass and kicked it out to Morrow for three!), 2 steals and 6 blocks. Specifically in the third quarter, Davis was the Clippers worst nightmare with his defense. He was everywhere. If the shot isn't falling (and boy was his jumper off), great players need to find another way to impact the game. Check.

- Al-Farouq Aminu had a very solid all-around game (8 points, 10 rebounds) but it was his play-making that stood out. His 6 assists were crucial with Tyreke Evans the only legitimate option at point guard. This was yet another instance where AFA showed us flashes of how he can impact the game without consistently knocking down an outside shot.

- Anthony Morrow drew the start and absolutely carried the offense in the first half. In all, he tallied 27 points, 5 rebounds, 2 three's and 1 block. Au revoir shooting slump!

- Darius Miller, that was certainly unexpected! 16 points on 7-9 shooting. He was acting like he had done this before. Oh, and the ball handling? Got any more secrets??? Miller didn't pick up his first turnover until the waning moments of the game. Quite impressive considering his lack of run and usual lack of usage.

- Alexis Ajinca notched a double-double in less than 20 minutes of action. He finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It's becoming apparent the Frenchman possesses a sort of mean streak that this team should look to keep for next season.

- Tyreke Evans, like Davis, didn't have an efficient shooting night: 10 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals. Seems crazy though, that with all his drives to the basket, he never get fouled. Not a single free throw? However, as good players should, he did impact the game. Just as the Clippers were attempting to make life hard on him, he did the same to Chris Paul. Sure CP3 missed some open looks, but as a whole, Evans did more than his part in shutting down one of the game's best.

- Bravo Monty Williams. The substitutions were largely spot-on. The inspiration you get this team to play with is amazing. The collective effort of 9 players, most of whom are reserves, out-classed a top-3 team in the Western Conference. Beyond question, the team's confidence is high with our recent stretch, but Monty deserves credit for instilling a never quit attitude, no matter the odds.

- The Pelicans MURDERED the Clippers in and around the lane: a 56-28 advantage in points in the paint and a 53-40 edge in rebounds.

That's now 8 wins in our last 11 games, but these last 3 have really been special. As I've already remarked one too many times (just ask my GF), I can't recall a better week of basketball since the post-CP3 era begun. You know what makes it even sweeter? Sixer fans, who have been monitoring every Pelican win/loss, can't be happy.

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