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Pelicans Defrost and Nuke the Nets in Brooklyn

Down three important cogs the New Orleans Pelicans trudge on in the Western Conference Death Match.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The first six minutes were not the kind of start anyone was hoping for out of the Pelicans. The ball moved, it found open shooters, but those shots did not fall. 2-11 from the field to start the game is not just cold, but absolutely frigid. Eric Gordon missed two wide open catch and shoot threes. Anthony Davis, after sinking a long two on the opening possession, missed badly on his second attempt.

Meanwhile the Nets, rested and still (somehow) in the hunt in the Eastern Conference, came out hot. 7-11 from the field including seven straight points by Thaddeus Young on AD to begin the contest. Had seven games in ten days, mounting injury concerns, and a lack of depth sunk the Pelicans on the precipice of coming even with the Oklahoma City Thunder?

Nope.

Finishing the First Quarter

Here was where the script flipped. Coming out of the three minute media timeout the Pelicans found themselves trailing 11-23. A quick Joe Johnson bucket stretched the lead to 14 points. Eric Gordon, facilitator and scorer, took over. In two and a half minutes the Pels went on a 12-2 run. Gordon accounted for 10 of those points; scoring six and assisting on another four. Only two Anthony Davis free throws kept Gordon from claiming the entire run all to himself. During the run the Nets attempted just one shot inside the paint, Anthony Davis sent the Thaddeus Young attempt away.

The second quarter started ugly. The teams combined for five missed shots before Alan Anderson broke the ice with free throws. It was then Alexis Ajinca's time to shine. Ajinca would account for 11 consecutive Pelican points including an assist to Dante Cunningham. Brooklyn's big lead finally evaporated with an Anthony Davis jumper to put the Pels on top 44-43. The Nets would not lead again.

New Orleans finished strong again going into the half, outscoring Brooklyn 13-3 in the final three and a half minutes. Could the Pelicans stay hot in the locker room and deliver a knockout blow?

Yes.

Omer Asik, Fatality

In the third quarter the combination of Asik's presence in the lane and Brooklyn just not making layups ended any real prospects of a competitive half. The Nets started out 0-8, including seven shots within eight feet in that total. Asik racked up six rebounds of his own to go along with six more points and a nine point margin quickly ballooned to 20. Boos began to rain down in the Barclays Center and a defeated team simple conceded. The Nets would not cut the lead below 17 for the remainder of the night.

This happened too. Wow.

In the fourth quarter Quincy Pondexter, celebrating his 27th birthday, decided to celebrate at the expense of the Nets. He scored 14 points in the fourth alone and did not miss a shot. 5-5 from the field including 4-4 behind the arc in 10 minutes of work. His efforts meant every starter finished in double figures to go along with Ajinca's 17 points off the bench.

What Rest?

New Orleans had no business being in this game tonight. Not down Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson, and Jrue Holiday. Not on the second night of a back-to-back. Definitely not in their seventh game in ten days. Brooklyn should have stepped on their throat with that big lead.

Thing is, the Pelicans did not start doing anything different. Even in the beginning of the game a number of people in my timeline said "we're getting good shots", "offense looks good, legs look tired", and similar comments. Eric Gordon had multiple wide open catch and shoot looks that just did not fall. Until they did. Once that happened the Nets crumbled.

In the first nine minutes the Pelicans had a 64.7 offensive rating. Which is just dreadful. In the remainder of the game they posted a 128.5 offensive rating and demolished Brooklyn. Eric Gordon was 0-5 in those first nine minutes. He went 6-9 afterwards. New Orleans did not change what they did, the ball just went in the basket.

Up Next

Tomorrow night the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Los Angeles Clippers on ESPN at 7:00 PM. Should the Thunder lose the Pelicans will officially take hold of eighth in the Western Conference. Just 17 games remain for the Pelicans, their next is Sunday at home against the Denver Nuggets. Since firing Brian Shaw Denver is 3-2 with wins over Milwaukee, Minnesota, and the Knicks. They have also battled the Spurs (9 point loss on the road) and Rockets (4 point loss at home) under interim head coach Melvin Hunt.

I'll have more notes shortly. Get healthy Pelicans!

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