Not stunned, we've seen this before. Not shocked, just heartbroken. The New Orleans Pelicans had every reason to pull this game out and they did not.
If I have one criticism consistent through Monty's five seasons here in New Orleans, it is the "prevent offense" he goes to with a big lead. Up 20 points against the Golden State Warriors going into the fourth quarter, the New Orleans Pelicans tried to bleed the clock out for nearly six minutes. The offense got started late, moved very little, and forced consistently poor shots after humming for over three and a half quarters.
Being outscored 39-19 in just 12 minutes is not the key to winning basketball games. The Warriors were going to go on a run. The Pelicans did far too much to assist that run making some of the same mistakes we have seen all season.
An unfortunate miss at the foul line by Anthony Davis gave the Warriors a chance. The first Curry three missed, but as was the case all quarter running a small lineup, the Pelicans could not get the rebound. The second attempt, of utmost ridiculousness, found the bottom of the net.
The Good Stuff
The second quarter was a Ryan Anderson showcase. He started with a thunderous two hand dunk thanks to a Jrue Holiday pocket pass. That really got him going and he followed with a 3-pointer, a couple mid range jumpers, and a few post up finishes. His only misses were a failed tip attempt and a rushed 3-pointer as the shot clock expired. In just 12 minutes on the floor Ryno led the team with a +23 +/-. Home Anderson is a beautiful thing.
It got even better in the fourth quarter, where he absolutely torched Draymond Green. No one can guard this, it is impossible.
Monty Williams tossed out some of the oddest lineups we have seen yet. At one point, Anderson was the "center" surrounded by Norris Cole, Eric Gordon, Quincy Pondexter, and Tyreke Evans. I don't know if we will see a weirder assortment of players sharing the floor this series and probably beyond.
Tyreke Evans looked much more like himself and even finished two dunks in transition. 14 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds in just 17 minutes of work in the first half is an impressive start. Norris Cole replayed his amazing second quarter against the Spurs with 14 points on 6/9 from the field.
No recap of this game is complete without an obituary for Marreese Speights. First AD blocked him twice.Then, after fouling Davis, Speights got up in the Brow's face. An apparent open dunk was blocked from behind by Dante Cunningham. Speights failed (for once) to get a charge call and sent Jrue Holiday to the line. If all that wasn't enough, Holiday blocked Marreese at the rim again. All of this occurred in just six minutes of game time. RIP Marreesse Speights.
New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) April 24, 2015
The Pels led 89-69 after three quarters. Despite playing poorly in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans had a chance to seal up the game. 9.6 seconds remained and Anthony Davis went to the line to stretch the lead to four with two makes. He missed the first.
Again, in overtime, the Pelicans had a chance. First, Klay Thompson decided to hug Anthony Davis up three points. An off-ball foul under two minutes results in one free throw and the ball. Davis made that free throw. On the following play, the Pelicans isolated Davis on the left side against Andrew Bogut. Davis drove left, got the ball and his arms under Bogut's arm, and tried to go up and through Bogut for the shot and a possible foul call.
That foul is how James Harden makes a living. Stretching out under defenders and then coming up through arms on his way to the basket. It works, in the regular season. It did not tonight. The shot was rebounded by Klay Thompson and two Curry free throws iced the game. The Smoothie King Center felt like it was shell shocked for the final 30 minutes or so of the game.
I am too.