They never like to make it easy for themselves, do they?
The Pelicans led the Celtics by as many as 15 points tonight in the Smoothie King Center and seemed like a lock to cruise to their second win of the season. Instead New Orleans watched that double digit lead disappear entirely and needed some late, clutch free throw shooting from Anthony Davis and Tim Frazier to put out the fire they were playing with all fourth quarter long. Ultimately no harm was done as the Pelicans held on and picked up a rare commodity this season: a win.
Anthony Davis was once again the best player on the floor tonight with 25 points and 16 rebounds but he’s not the story. No, tonight the praises are to be sung about Langston Galloway and Terrence Jones. Galloway had the hot hand tonight shooting 8-14 from the floor including 3-5 from three. He had 21 points in 32 minutes of action and New Orleans needed every single one of them. Terrence Jones, meanwhile, had a double-double coming off the bench with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks, one of which was a particularly rude rejection of Tyler Zeller:
The Pelican bench as a whole played splendidly tonight: Jones, Galloway, Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca and Archie Goodwin combined to score 57 points and all five players had a positive plus/minus figure.
The fourth quarter was nothing if not tumultuous for New Orleans. An ice cold 5-18 shooting effort allowed Boston to not only erase the 10-point deficit they faced coming into the quarter, but claim a pair of leads with less than two minutes to play. Boston, who entered tonight’s contest as the eight-best three-point shooting team in the league, had an inefficient night behind the arc and only hit on 29 percent of their attempts; they still connected on 12 treys, however, which was a big reason they were able to keep pace with New Orleans.
The Pelicans, who again did not have a good night from three (6-21) was able to neutralize the damage Boston was doing from beyond the arc in a different way: by getting to the free throw line. New Orleans got to the line 36 times, 16 more than Boston, and hit on 30 of those attempts. When Isiah Thomas gave the Celtics a 102-100 lead with 1:57 to play in the game, New Orleans was able to get to the line eight times and hit on seven of them — clutch free throw shooting bailed out New Orleans.
Every win is a good win, especially when you’re like the Pelicans and don’t have many of them credited to your name. Tonight was also the team’s first win inside the Smoothie King Center.
When asked if he thought it was a monkey off the team’s back to finally get that elusive first home win, Alvin Gentry said “Not a monkey. A gorilla, maybe. It’s big.”
Next up, the Pelicans will have Tuesday night off and then make a quick trip to Florida to play the Magic in the most winnable game they’ll have the rest of the week. New Orleans will have to take advantage and win as many of these winnable games as they can if they want to get out of the early season hole they dug themselves. A win tonight was a good start, let’s see if they can inch closer Wednesday.
Also, I must mention the fact that Solomon Hill killed Marcus Smart tonight. It’s true, he’s dead now. The refs may have been complete weenies and took it away because of a “charge” but that doesn’t mean this didn’t happen. Just because it didn’t count doesn’t mean the shame is gone.
Rest in peace, Marcus Smart.