Kevin Durant once proclaimed Anthony Davis to be next in line for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award. Nearly four years later, that time has arrived, even if Davis realistically has little chance of catching James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
That’s okay, though, because AD isn’t interested in winning that race as he told the media following the New Orleans Pelicans 125-116 win over the Phoenix Suns. This, despite looking like a legitimate contender. Since the start of February, Davis has posted more jaw-dropping performances than not, and Monday night’s display may have been his most dominating yet.
Although they had led by 17 points at one point in the first half and had several chances to tie or take the lead late in the fourth, the Phoenix Suns had virtually no chance of stopping New Orleans one-man wrecking crew. Davis was responsible for fouling out the Suns entire front line: Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss and Alex Len. Thus, it was utterly hysterical to hear Jrue Holiday recollect a conversation he had with Josh Jackson, who was tasked with stopping the Unibrow during the final minutes of the game.
“I talked to Josh Jackson when he had 50,” said Holiday in postgame. “He was like ‘He has 50?’ I was like ‘He be killing y’all. All your bigs is on the bench.’ I mean that’s Anthony. Like I said, thank you. Thank you Anthony.”
In case anyone's interested, here's some highlights of the most overrated player in basketball. pic.twitter.com/njqs0wxKxn— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 27, 2018
Without those herculean efforts, New Orleans wouldn’t have emerged the victor. They wouldn’t have won their sixth straight game. And they most certainly wouldn’t sit in fifth place in the Western Conference, just two games out of third.
If you’re not a fan of Devin Booker, who was spectacular in his own right with 40 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, the rest of the game wasn’t much to look at. Neither team eclipsed 30% shooting from the three-point line and the teams combined for 55 personal fouls — A lot of bricks and even more stoppages of play.
Jrue Holiday chipped in an efficient 20 points on 13 shots, but Nikola Mirotic, E’Twaun Moore, Darius Miller and Ian Clark struggled to find the range. Although Rondo only knocked down 2 of 9 from the floor, his 12 assists were instrumental in the Pelicans win. In his 12 minutes on the bench, the Pelicans were a -9 on the scoreboard as the offense lacked any rhythm.
One other bright spot was Emeka Okafor, who earlier in the day was signed to a contract for the rest of the season. Okafor finished with 14 points and four rebounds in 19 minutes of action, but I was most impressed with his conditioning as he was able to play for the entirety of the third quarter — incidentally the Pelicans best quarter as evidenced by the 38-24 point differential.
The Pelicans looked out of sorts for too many stretches against the worst team in the league, but they did enough to fetch the win. Even the best of the best have those nights when they’re not feeling it for one reason or another.
“I think we started the night – we were a little tired,” said Head Coach Alvin Gentry. “Our legs were a little tired. It’s like I said, you’ve got to get over it. That’s the way it’s going to be. If you’re a playoff basketball team, after the first round, you’re going to play a lot of basketball, quickly, so you’ve just got to mentally get by the part where you’re feeling tired and just go out and try to win the game.”
Yes, thank you indeed, Anthony, for carrying the Pelicans to the finish line against the Suns. Although it required an achievement not seen since Bob McAdoo’s 52-point, 22-rebound and 7-block effort in 1974, the winning streak remains intact and New Orleans playoff hopes have never been stronger.