In their first meeting, an immensely difficult Jimmy Butler jumper propelled the Wolves to the win, but this time round, an Anthony Davis ejection in the second quarter led to the Pelicans downfall as they were unable to regroup after their superstar left the court.
As many of you know, Davis is not known for reacting passionately to referee whistles or a lack thereof. However, it quickly became apparent this was not going to be a normal night when AD had to be restrained by teammates after picking up his first technical. Davis attempted to score with 4:26 remaining in the first half, yet he missed and was dismayed when a whistle wasn’t blown in his favor.
On the ensuing possession, Davis was called for a personal foul on Karl-Anthony Towns at the rim which led to the following response and a resulting second technical foul.
Anthony Davis is triggered pic.twitter.com/otVpMtx2x7— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 30, 2017
Just a day after LeBron James was ejected for the first time in his 15-year NBA career, Davis met the same fate in his 355th game played. Both technical fouls were called by referee Ken Mauer, who stated after the game that AD left him no choice.
The following is a transcript of the pool reporter interview following the Minnesota/New Orleans game with NBA crew chief Ken Mauer by Rod Walker, The Advocate. pic.twitter.com/tIHxFljWCk— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) November 30, 2017
Obviously the crowd was stunned and vibrantly upset by the turn of events — boos rained down from every corner of the Smoothie King Center.
VIDEO— Fletcher Mackel (@FletcherWDSU) November 30, 2017
The crowd reaction here in the @SmoothieKingCtr after the ref ejected @AntDavis23
Not to sound like a homer, but officiating on AD tonight was embarrassing.
Almost like they had it out for him. pic.twitter.com/ZppEt9Wqni
Following the Davis ejection, the Timberwolves went on a 12-0 run to extend a 45-43 lead to 57-43. A 13-point deficit at halftime proved too difficult to overcome as the Pelicans never got closer than within nine points the rest of the way.
Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans with 27 points as he found the range from the outside, making five of 11 three-point attempts. Andrew Wiggins led the Wolves with 28 points and Jimmy Butler added 19.
“When asked his thoughts on the game, Head Coach Alvin Gentry didn’t have much to say, but his displeasure regarding the ejection of one of his best players was noticeable.
“Obviously, that changed everything,” said Gentry. “He did exactly what we told him to do which was take the ball strong to the basket... We tell our big guys to take the ball to the basket hard and try to create contact. I’ll leave it at that.”
DeMarcus Cousins, who scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, didn’t mince words either.
Here's the entire clip of what Boogie had to say about AD's ejection: pic.twitter.com/fS77K4qqF1— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) November 30, 2017
Although Davis and Cousins average over 15 free throw attempts a game on the season, tonight was far from the first time that the players and fans expressed the idea that the Pelicans do not receive enough whistles in their favor for the amount of contact they take inside the paint.
Despite the loss of a superstar, the New Orleans defense was just as much if not more to blame for the lackluster defeat. The Wolves hovered around a 60% field goal percentage for most of the game, and every time the Pelicans found some rhythm on offense they were unable to get the necessary stops on the other end.
Up next, New Orleans travels to Utah to play the Jazz on Friday. Although my expectation is Davis will not be suspended for Wednesday’s actions, stay tuned for confirmation from the league later today.