HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHaHAHAHAHAHAHA what on Earth just happened tonight???
I am going to be totally honest with you guys, I thought tonight's game was going to be like when Drago beat Apollo Creed to death in Rocky IV. I thought that, down their two best players, the Pelicans were going to get their butts kicked in a way man has never seen before. But (#HOTSPORTZTAEK alert!!!) that's why they play the game.
Considering who the Pelicans beat and what they were missing, this is New Orleans' biggest win since Saving Private Ryan. The Pelicans had absolutely no reason to win this game but by God they did it. Of course this win also fits in perfectly with this maddeningly inconsistent season...but whatever. Any night you celebrate your team beating one of the five best teams in the league is a good night. It doesn't matter if your season has gone down the toilet or if you're in that special type of sports purgatory known as ".500." You beat this Clippers team that's reason to get turnt.
Three Headed Monster
New Orleans doesn't win this game without Ryan Anderson, Alexis Ajinca and Eric Gordon (more on him later) performing like they did. Anderson, filling in for the injured Anthony Davis, had the kind of game New Orleans desperately needed to have a chance to win. Ryno scored 24 points, hit just under half of his threes (5-11), picked up nine tough rebounds, made all seven of his free throws and added a steal and assist to boot. And he did it all without committing a single turnover.
Where Ryan Anderson was the positional replacement for AD, Alexis Ajinca was Anthony Davis in spirit. Ajinca had a field day down low. With a stat line reading 17 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks you'd think Davis was in there. Nope, that was the Pelicans' backup center causing that much damage. By the way, Ajinca was perfect from the free throw line tonight as well.
Those two stories are nice, but they aren't the headline because...
E for Effort
Eric Gordon had one of his best games in his time here in New Orleans and the best game of this season. Gordon led all players with 28 points, shot an even 50 percent from the field, including hitting on five of his seven threes, and dished out seven assists. Bravo. Gordon's taken a lot of deserved flack in his tenure, but I have to admit I respect the hell out of him for coming back from his shoulder injury. He's a totally different player now and this new version couldn't be a more welcome addition.
Full on Friendship!
Aside from Luke Babbit, everyone who took the floor tonight for New Orleans contributed to this win. It sounds cliche, but this really was a total team effort. I mean, Tyreke Evans was two rebounds away from a triple-double (11 points, 8 rebounds and 13 assists). Have I mentioned that I love Tyreke playing the point? Because when he's on and he's creating for teammates, he's reeeeaaaaallllllyyyyyyyy good. Asik didn't quite have the same night rebounding as he did in the first game against the Clippers, but he came away with seven boards along with five points and two assists. Dante Cunningham had a dozen rebounds! And apparently he dunked too?? I must have missed that but Twitter said he did in fact dunk the ball. Is it too late to get him in the Dunk Contest? And let's give this man his fair share of credit: Jimmer Fredette went five for five from the free throw line and those were huge free throws. Good for you, Jimmer. Good for everyone really.
The Pelicans, despite their injuries, were the better team tonight. The only statistic the Clippers won was field goal percentage, blocked shots and turnovers committed. And even then, they were slight margins (45.7 percent to 41.9 percent, 5 to 4 and 5 to 8 respectively). The Pelicans dominated in every other category. New Orleans hit 52 percent of their threes; L.A. had an ice cold 25 percent night. New Orleans clocked the Clippers when it came to rebounding, possessing a 51 to 38 advantage. They even created more assists than Los Angeles. That's right, the team down their starting point guard out-assisted the team that had Chris Paul.
This homestand has been kind to New Orleans and now they have some momentum going for them with the All-Star Break approaching. The Pelicans are winners of five of their last six games and have the red-hot Hawks coming to town Monday night. Can their recent success help carry them into upsetting the best team in the East?
After a win like tonight anything's possible.