In the final seven minutes of the game the New Orleans Pelicans mustered just four points on fifteen possessions. They committed four turnovers, missed five three point attempts, and generally crumbled under the pressure of the Golden State Warriors. On the final meaningful possession, Anthony Davis was stripped, relatively cleanly, by Draymond Green on the left block. Davis, who disagreed vehemently with the no call, earned himself a technical foul arguing with the ref in the short moments afterward. The Pelicans ultimately fell to the super team Warriors, 113-109.
It was a microcosm of a team that knows how to win taking it to a team that has grown accustomed but not yet complacent with losing. After three hot shooting quarters (13-25, a blistering 52% behind the arc), the Pelicans shot just 1-10 from deep in the fourth. Golden State could not do much better and both teams combined for just 33 points in the final frame.
The first three quarters were incredible to watch. Langston Galloway was doing his best impersonation of an actual human torch, launching 3-pointers as soon as the ball touched his fingertips, scoring 18 points and converting five of nine attempts behind the 3-point line. Anthony Davis could not be stopped and scored 25 points on just ten field goal attempts, and he made a wide array of difficult leaning layups and floaters Pelican fans have become completely spoiled by this season.
Even Alexis Ajinca got into the action, giving Kevin Durant a hard bump as Anthony Davis set up for a corner 3-pointer. After the two had words, a review nullified a Davis trey, calling an offensive foul on Ajinca instead. Durant drained a three of his own on the following possession. All that occurred during a terrifying 15-1 run by the Warriors over the span of three minutes. New Orleans could have folded, but they battled back. A Solomon Hill 5-0 run (no, it really happened) ended with a Warriors timeout as Hill barked at the Golden State bench. Tim Frazier turned what appeared to be a broken play into a pull-up three from the left wing and the stankest face he could possibly conjure.
The first half was fun too. Buddy Hield got things started with two quick buckets, looking as comfortable as he has in a Pelicans uniform. It’s nice to see Buddy playing with both Holiday and Davis, slotting him as the third option offensively lifts a substantial burden off the young rookie’s shoulders.
Tim Frazier has unlocked an entirely new attitude in recent weeks and is perfectly slotted as a point guard off the bench which unlocks his strengths and limits most of his (largely defensive) weaknesses. The bench extended leads both times Anthony Davis sat despite the Warriors staggering both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson with their own reserves. A truly remarkable feat. (Again, thanks in large part to Langston Galloway’s unconscious shooting form 3-point land.)
In the end though, the Pelicans did lose. With a record of 8-18 they will find that moral victories provide no credit for playoff contention. The formula tonight, unreal shooting behind the arc from a team ranked 27th in 3PT%, seems unreliable for long term implementation.
They got up for their Super Bowl, a match-up with the super-team Warriors, and made a thoroughly entertaining game of it for Pelican (and the many Warrior) fans. Next up are the Indiana Pacers, with far less star wattage. Will the Tuesday night version of the Pelicans show up, or will we see a reversion back to the team that needs overtime to beat the Phoenix Suns or drops home games to the Philadelphia 76ers? This team, the one we saw tonight, can play with anyone in the league. They could win enough down the stretch to make a run at .500 and a playoff bid. I just need to see it more often before I’m convinced.
How about you?