Tonight was supposed to be a happy night.
Prior to tipoff, Anthony Davis was presented with his jersey for this weekend's All-Star Game in Toronto. The lone celebratory point of this flop of a season. Then the news broke: former Pelican head coach Monty Williams' wife, Ingrid, died from injuries suffered in a car accident.
Really that's where the stuff that matters should end. Considering the circumstances, it's hard to care how many points this player had or how well that player shot. Something as insignificant as the result of a basketball game pales in comparison to the loss of a mother to five.
On a night like tonight, I'm reminded of Chris Ballard's Sports Illustrated feature on Ryan Anderson as he opened up about his girlfriend Gia Allemand's suicide. The part that stands out to me focused on both Monty and Ingrid Williams being there for Anderson the night Allemand took her life.
As they drove in silence, Williams kept thinking that it was fine if he blew a game but he couldn't mess up now. Once home, he huddled with his wife, Ingrid, and Ryan in the family room, praying. Ingrid's brother had committed suicide recently. She knew not to say it was going to be O.K., because it wasn't. "This is going to be hard for a long time," she told Ryan.
That night as the family pastor came and went, Ryan cried so much that it felt as if he were dry heaving or bleeding internally. Each convulsion ripped his insides apart.
Around 1 A.M., at Ingrid's urging, Monty brought one of his sons' mattresses down to the living room, There the two men lay through the night. Ryan curled on the sofa and his coach on the floor next to him. When Ryan wanted to talk, they talked. Otherwise there was only his muted sobbing. Finally, just after the sun came up, Ryan fell into a fitful sleep.
It is my sincere hope Monty Williams has someone there for him the way he and his wife were there for Anderson.
- As noted in the headline, the Pelicans bench carried New Orleans while the starters struggled in the first half of tonight's game. Jrue Holiday led all Pelicans with 21 points, Alexis Ajinca had 8 points and 11 rebounds and Toney Douglas pitched in an additional 8 points, All the reserves had a positive plus/minus number.
- Anthony Davis had an admittedly slow start because his thoughts were with his former head coach. Davis had six points at the half but finished strong, scoring 13 in the second half including a game-sealing three pointer.
- Bryce Dejean-Jones, in what could have been his last game in a New Orleans Pelican jersey, scored nine points and made three of his five shots. Scott Kushner of the Advocate reported afterward that Dejean-Jones won't play in Oklahoma City tomorrow night as his second 10-day contract expired tonight. However, it was also reported that Dejean-Jones is currently engaged in talks with both New Orleans and other teams for a two to three year long deal.
- New Orleans did a good job taking care of the ball tonight: 23 assists to nine turnovers.
- Utah got little to nothing from their bench: five Jazz players combined for a total 10 points.
- The Jazz frontline had themselves impressive games tonight: Derrick Favors led all players with 29 points, Gordon Hayward had 21 and Rudy Gobert had 12 points, 14 rebounds and a pair of blocks.