Ryan Anderson said it best in his post-game interview.
Ryan Anderson asking the reporters, "Best game of the season, right?" "Oh, wait, you OKC guys are pissed." LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Oleh Kosel (@Redhopeful) February 7, 2015
So, this recap deserves a detailed run down of the events. Shall we?
First Half Highlights
The game started off with a turnover by Kevin Durant and then Anthony Davis followed with one of his own. However, as to where the Thunder would settle down, the Pelicans would accumulate 4 turnovers in less than the first five minutes of the game. Not surprisingly, the Thunder raced out to a 12-6 early advantage.
After a 3 by Westbrook made it an 11 point deficit, Monty wisely called a timeout. Soon after, Kendrick Perkins fouled Tyreke Evans on a drive to the rim, had words with him as Reke was walking away and then slammed into him. Well, despite the lack of a called technical foul, we should probably send Perk a thank you card because that lit a fire under Evans. He helped the Pelicans go on a 10-2 run to close the deficit to just 3 points.
For the rest of the quarter, the teams traded jabs. After both of Quincy Pondexter's made three's, the Thunder responded immediately both times with one of their own. With 12 minutes in the books, the score stood 33-29 with Russell Westbrook (14) and Evans (10) leading the way for their respective teams. Down 4 points, with OKC shooting 65%, making 4 three's and blocking 5 shots, didn't seem all that bad.
The second quarter started off as a mixed bag as both teams scored quickly, but then things cooled. However, Jimmer Freddette did score 4 consecutive points to close the Pelicans deficit to just a single point 3:30 into the frame. Later, he added a nice assist to Q-Pon.
Once both sets of starters re-entered the game, Durant and Westbrook helped push the lead back to 6, but Q-Pon came right back with his third trey of the first half. Soon after, Eric Gordon hit one of his own, but he picked up his 3rd foul on the very next play and it forced him to the bench for the remaining 4 minutes of the first half. No matter, the Pelicans never folded and an Evans three just before halftime made the deficit 3 points, 56-53. That shot was absolutely huge considering the Pelicans had missed two easy lay-ins (by Evans/Davis) moments earlier.
In the first half, Evans and Davis led the way with 13 points and Q-Pon chipped in with 11. The three ball (7-12) kept the Pelicans in the game, but just 4 free throw attempts (3 by Davis), had them on the brink of being down a lot more.
2nd Half Goodness
The second half began with Gordon tying up the game with his second three of the game, but the joy was short-lived as the Thunder quickly built a 7 point advantage on the strength of Westbrook scoring 9 of the nexxt 11 points for OKC. Problem is, they didn't stop there. They tallied 20 points in the first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter to climb out to a 12 point lead.
Yet, somehow, the Pelicans went on a 7-0 run of their own to make it a 5-point deficit at the 4:45 mark. Then with about 2 minutes remaining and down 7, the Pelicans finished the frame off on a 9-0 run. Much like how in Wednesday's game we led the Thunder until the final part of the 3rd quarter, the Pelicans flipped the script as they seized an 83-81 advantage headed into the 4th.
The final frame began with a quick turnover by Perkins and an AD slam on the other end, and the Pelicans didn't let off the gas. The Thunder were forced to a call timeout in less than 2 minutes because New Orleans was in the midst of a beautiful 14-0 run.
After a bad shot clock violation by Evans and then an offensive foul on Anderson for kicking out his leg on a jumper, the Thunder failed to take advantage...momentarily. After 2 Anderson freethrows, Anthony Morrow converted an And-1 and then Westbrook timed a beautiful steal against Gordon the led the way for an open dunk. A seven point lead was cut to two in the blink of an eye.
For the second time in the game, Monty Williams smartly called a timeout. On the next two plays, the team went to Anthony Davis and he converted both times including picking up an important 5th foul on Serge Ibaka. Westbrook wouldn't let the Thunder go away though. Then something strange happened.
The Pelicans didn't end up calling timeout and Davis would go on to hit a long 2 to push the lead back up to 3. Westbrook came right back to cut our lead to 1 with his 45th point of the night.
Coming out of a Pelican's timeout, Ryan Anderson got Ibaka to pick up his 6th foul for the night. Goodbye shotblocker! At the 3 minute mark!! After Anderson made both free throws, Evans scored on an easy take to the rim and then Davis followed it with another hoop. With 2:10 remaining, the Pelicans were up 7 and Serge Ibaka was a spectator!
STILL, the Thunder refused to go away. After Westbrook missed a contested lay-up, Steven Adams got the put-back. Then, Tyreke inexplicably went for the dagger with a three pointer 15 seconds into the shot clock. It missed badly. So, of course Durant comes right back with a three of his own and cut the Pelicans lead to just 2 with 1:31 to go.
Out of a timeout, Ryan Anderson made a beautiful move. Most of the Thunder expected a three pointer, so he got by two defenders with ease and attempted a long lay-up from about 6 feet away. Russell Westbrook came over a split second to late for the shotblock -- goaltending was the call.
After another Durant made three, Anderson sank two free throws to push the lead back to 3. Andre Roberson made a lay-up, but with only 22 seconds remaining, the Thunder were forced to foul. Anderson passed the ball to Evans and off to the line he went, a perfect 3-3 up to this point.
He missed them both.
With 17.4 seconds remaining, it seemed the Thunder were poised for the win even though the scoreboard said otherwise. Lo and behold, Kevin Durant missed...Tyreke Evans grabbed the rebound with 6 seconds remaining...but he carelessly lobbed it ahead in hopes of hitting either Dante Cunningham or AD...Durant flew in to grab the steal....now he's shooting from a lot closer, just 6 feet away...BUT HE MISSED AGAIN!
Anthony Davis came flying in to nab the rebound with 2.8 seconds to go and then knocked down both free throws. Up 3, that should be the game, right?
OKC got the ball to Westbrook, who immediately took the 3-point shot, but Quincy Pondexter crashed into him! Yep, he made all three foul shots. Twitter knew the Pelicans had one more shot with 1.2 seconds to go, but everyone, including myself, were preparing themselves for an ardous overtime.
At. Any. Angle.
The play was supposed to be a lob to Anthony Davis, but the Thunder smartly got two defenders in between him and the basket as he curled around a screen. Smartly, he leaked out into space towards the three point line, Evans found him and the rest is history no one will soon forget. In fact, it's probably not a stretch to say that no one is going to EVER forget Anthony Davis first made three pointer of the 2014-15 season!!!
Btw, did anyone catch Monty Williams reaction? He dropped the board with both hands upon the ball going through the hoop and then this happened a few moments later:
The Full Monty?
- Anthony Davis has to be at the heart of the MVP conversation. Tonight: 41 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks. He was perfect from the free throw line, making all 10 attempts. He shot 65% from the floor. There is nothing he cannot do. Thus, it's rather inexplicably NBA.com's Sekou Smith listed him in 10th place on their site's most recent MVP list.
- Despite Tyreke free throw and turnover miscues down the stretch, the Pelicans wouldn't have won this game without him: 22 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds. This has got to be the quietest triple double I've ever seen.
- Ryan Anderson's line wasn't jaw-dropping -- 17 points, 4 rebounds and 2 three's -- but he was huge down the stretch. He had 6 points in the final 3 minutes. To boot, he added several blocks, took a charge, and in attempting another, forced Durant to miss a shot he normally makes in the lane in the 4th quarter.
- Quincy Pondexter had 15 points on the night, but his 3 three's in the first half helped the Pelicans keep pace with the Thunder. He also had a couple of fine defensive plays, but they'll be overlooked considering Westbrook went off for 48 points and Durant 27.
- Eric Gordon had problems converting inside the paint area again (no surprise) and more importantly, staying on the floor due to foul trouble. He finished with several three pointers, but overall his impact was minimal.
- Omer Asik was largely irrelevant (-15 +/-), but he did have a nice lay-in showing rare dexterity around Adams.
- I thought Jimmer Freddette provided meaningful minutes in the 2nd quarter as he scored 4 straight points and then had a nice assist to Q-Pon, so it was a little surprising he got zero run in the second half.
- After 4 first half free throw attempts, the Pelicans had 26 in the final 24 minutes of the game.
- Unlike Wednesday's game, the team made a lot of shots tonight: 19 of 37 uncontested (51.4%) and 21 of 46 contested (45.7%).
- The Pelicans had 16 more rebounding chances but only out-rebounded the Thunder by 6 boards.
- The Pelicans made 11 of 20 from three point range.
The Pelicans have a quick turnaround as they play in the second game of their back-to-back against a well-rested Chicago Bulls team. However, the good news is that tomorrow's game and ones against the Jazz and Pacers will be at home. In fact the Pelicans don't have another road trip until after the All-Star break (February 20th).