The Pelicans faced a hungry Clippers team on a two-game losing streak, looking for a pick me up, and New Orleans inconsistencies with effort, defense, and ball security appeared to be just what the doctor had ordered. As frequently seen this season, the Pelicans went through stretches where they looked quite dominant, and had others where they looked lost or a bit uninterested. Nights like these often ended in losses for the Pelicans.
Monday night ended in a spectacular 121-117 win.
Led by a ridiculous 46 points from Anthony Davis and a pummeling 27 from Julius Randle, the Pelicans answered the call every time it seemed the Clippers were ready to grab hold of the matchup. And let’s not forget the grit Jrue Holiday showed on a rough night shooting from the floor (8-for-24), finishing with 19 points, eight assists, and some clutch defensive plays ending his night with two blocks and three steals.
For the Clippers, the three-point contest came to L.A. early as they connected on 18 of 36 attempts. And while super professional scorer Lou Williams had a rough night from the field, forwards Montrezl Harrell, Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari all totaled at least 21 points for the contest.
Adversity was the name of this game, and both teams showed up multiple times. This rare time, however, the Pelicans remained the last team standing. Here are some observations from the incredibly fun victory.
Pels had great energy and ball security.
From afar, New Orleans appeared to have an extra bounce in their step the minute the ball was raised. Especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Pelicans have so much energy early on defense to start the game. Can they sustain these efforts?— Chris Conner (@Impatientbull) January 15, 2019
The Clippers were able to rely on their deadly perimeter shooting as they’ve done all year (4th in the NBA) to keep things interesting. But there’s no denying NOLA came out hungry and motivated, and that energy produced some of their best defensive performances of the season in stretches that mattered most.
I don't think the Pelicans have looked this good on defense all year— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) January 15, 2019
The Pels forced 16 Clippers turnovers as they only coughed up six themselves. You heard that right...SIX! That’s half a quarter’s worth in some games for the Pelicans. If they can play with this type of consistent intensity while taking care of the basketball, New Orleans can truthfully hang with the best — and beat them.
The 3rd Quarter was as advertised.
When you look at the point per game by quarter averages for the Clippers and the Pelicans, the two surprisingly mirror each other. If you find one, the other isn’t too far further down the list.
Until you get to the third quarter that is.
The Clippers are ranked 23rd in 3rd quarter scoring. Pelicans are 4th. Don’t have to see clutch time if it never arrives pic.twitter.com/rHOUQKbY14— Chris Conner (@Impatientbull) January 15, 2019
Jokes aside, both teams lived up to their reputations as the Pels were up by as much as 20 points in the third quarter, leading 92-72. The game looked on its final legs, but Los Angeles immediately stormed back and made NOLA sweat with a 21-2 run in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, the Pelicans recovered enough to hang on for the griping win so that cushion created in the third quarter was probably a huge reason for that.
Points in the Paint: A Brow and a Bull
What’s an artist who doesn’t enjoy paint you ask? For a while, that artist was the Los Angeles Clippers. They struggled immensely with stopping the penetration of New Orleans inside as evidenced by a 68-40 beatdown of the points in the paint battle.
It was an outcome that we arguably should not have been surprised to witness.
Tips from the enemy:— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) January 14, 2019
-LAC has struggled recently, specifically their starting lineup and defense
-LAC will have no answer for AD/Randle
-Tiebreaker implications ✔️ https://t.co/ivGHOj2D8f
A fierce inside attack can demoralize a defense similar to a powerful running attack in football. Although some attempts can look prettier than others.
Julius Randle switches hands twice and then hits the skyhook. He is so offensively gifted. He has 23 points in the middle of the third. pic.twitter.com/u0W3L2NlTC— Justin Jett (@JustinJett_) January 15, 2019
Randle’s work however is almost child’s play in comparison to Anthony Davis’ night. Davis delivered anywhere he chose Monday night as the Clippers didn’t have one defender tall, quick, or strong enough to pose a consistent challenge after a rough start. One that Davis was able to acknowledge.
Hell, even with a lost shoe the Brow found a way to burn the Clippers.
Anthony Davis can score in the NBA with one shoe on pic.twitter.com/84bysDKg0o— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) January 15, 2019
Face-ups, hook-shots, jumpers, or dribble drives — AD had it all in his point domination bag Monday. He even iced the game with consecutive trips to the free throw line, each time pushing the Pelicans lead back up two scores.
What a performance!
The rotation changes for the good...partially.
As a head coach you must have eyes down every alley and ears at every door. Alvin Gentry seemed to check both boxes as a few favorable rotation switches for the game brought a lot of smiles.
Jahlil Okafor is a rotation big— Charles LaRocca (@CLaRoccaJr) January 15, 2019
Jah is just solid. Straight up solid. He needs to continue to get consistent minutes.— Shamit Dua (@FearTheBrown) January 15, 2019
In addition to Jahlil Okafor’s minutes, former starting point guard Tim Frazier didn’t log his first minute in weeks.
All wasn’t smooth, but the change seemed to be welcomed and successful as NOLA didn’t seem to miss his contributions overall. It’ll be interesting to see if this was a sign of the future, or just a specific game plan switch. We’ll be watching.
For every smile, however, there’s a frown. Another close game ended with starting point guard Elfrid Payton sitting on the bench.
Under 3 minutes left and no Elfrid. Pace is slowing down and it's all half court. Could use a guy who can create. Just sayin— Shamit Dua (@FearTheBrown) January 15, 2019
Everyone is pining for Payton. What gives Alvin?— Preston Ellis (@PrestonEllis) January 15, 2019
Not saying he’s god’s gift, but you have to read the tea leaves game by game. Moore, Miller and Niko don’t have it tonight.
Just bizarre that Alvin Gentry is not playing Elfrid Payton in crunch time again. Why have Darius Miller out there?— Off the Glass (@otgbasketball) January 15, 2019
Maybe there’s a side to this story that we’re missing or a blessing that hasn’t arrived yet, but for a team desperate for late game playmakers and overall calm in the clutch, it would be nice to see Elf, who is now off the shelf, off the bench and on the floor to close out games.
That’s a wrap for our recap, hope you enjoyed it. Look out for our upcoming preview of the Pelicans next opponent as New Orleans continues it’s road trip with a stop in Golden State to take on the defending champion Warriors in a playoff rematch.