Before we get to the recap I have to make a confession: I didn't catch this game live. I recorded the game because I had to work. I would've got to it sooner but then the NCAA Tournament decided it wanted to conclude arguably it's best first weekend ever with some INSANE games between Northern Iowa-Texas A&M and Wisconsin-Xavier. I had to watch Breaking Bad because I needed something with a little less drama to unwind. You know how you need to stretch after working out to help your muscles recover? That was my brain and heart, very much in need of some emotional cooling down before I got to the Pelican game and recap.
Man oh man where do we begin with this one? The Pelicans beat the Clippers; that's the bare minimum to this game. The Pelicans also beat the Clippers without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon. Let's go ahead and throw in Quincy Pondexter for the hell of it. Thus the Clippers, the current fourth seed in the West, lost to an actively tanking team missing five of their seven or eight best players. This is like loosing a duel to the no arms and no legs guy from Monty Python.
The Clippers had the more talented team on the court but New Orleans played better. It's cliche sure, but this time talent wasn't the be-all-end-all. New Orleans shot the ball better and bullied Los Angeles for 19 more rebounds. It wasn't without sloppiness, New Orleans had 11 more turnovers and allowed 27 points off of those 23 turnovers. Considering who the Pelicans will be putting on the court for the rest of the season, numbers like these can probably be expected for the rest of the season. But for tonight at least it didn't cost the Pelicans the win.
The battle between New Orleans point guard past and present was a riveting one to watch. Jrue Holiday played Chris Paul to a draw, countering Paul's 24 point, 13 assist line with 22 and 8. Holiday had more turnovers than Paul and it took him more shots to score fewer points, but considering the teammates, Holiday's performance is graded on a curve. The Pelicans are Jrue's team these last 13 games of the season, let's see what he can do without New Orleans' best players.
I'm not a body language expert but I'm not digging what I saw from Los Angeles. They look a little complacent right now. Los Angeles has lost back-to-back games and five of seven. Currently they're four and a half games behind Oklahoma City for the three-seed and only three and a half games up on the Memphis, whom they lost to Saturday night. I don't know, to me it looks like they've accepted they're not going to catch the Thunder and they feel good about their chances of holding off the Grizzlies. Effort doesn't seem to be there currently, I mean just look at how the DeAndre vs. Asik battle ended: 12 points and 9 rebounds for Jordan, 15 points and 14 rebounds for Asik. New Orleans also commanded a 12 point advantage in the points in the paint department to further emphasize the point.
Effort wasn't a question for New Orleans tonight, however. All five starters-Holiday, Asik, Luke Babbitt, Dante Cunningham and Toney Douglas all scored at least 14 points. Cunningham was the second-leading Pelican scorer with 19 points and Tim Frazier was right behind him with 17 points in 20 minutes of playing time. In fact, Frazier's 17 points accounted for all but seven of New Orleans' 24 bench points.
Since it's March Madness time, New Orleans really played the part of a 13-seed taking care of a No. 4. New Orleans didn't jack up a ton of threes because frankly there was not a viable three-point threat out there. Instead New Orleans followed the simplest recipe for pulling off an upset: rebound and make free throws. The Pelicans got to the line 40 times and made 32 of them. Things like that matter when you're as outgunned as the Pelicans were.
We all know the Pelicans only have one plan of action to close out this 2015-16 season. Lose. And lose a bunch. But I liked seeing my team compete even though there's nothing to be gained by winning. No, I don't want them to cost themselves better lottery odds because they won one too many games, but I'm also not about to say I want to see them pull a 76ers and throw away these last 13 games. Show me you've got some pride and I can accept the offseason more willingly. Just make sure you don't win too many games, guys.