For a meaningless game, there was so much drama in New Orleans for the Pelicans regular season finale — and almost none of it happened on the court.
Let’s go back to pregame. Anthony Davis walked into the Smoothie King Center as a member of the Pelicans for almost assuredly the final time. Davis made sure to jab the organization one final time, wearing a shirt reading “That’s All Folks!” and a video of him was posted on the Pelicans Instagram. Upon noticing the words and the firestorm it created on social media, it was removed.
Elsewhere in the Smoothie King Center, DeMarcus Cousins returned to the basketball court in New Orleans for the first time since rupturing his Achilles tendon last January. Cousins will be playing in the postseason for the first time in a few days, but before the real games start, Boogie made sure to stick it to New Orleans to the tune of 21 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. On a night where the Warriors were without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, Cousins was the man carrying the load for the defending champs.
Golden State’s need for Cousins to step up was amplified by an injury to Steph Curry. Curry slipped in the first quarter and was diagnosed with a sprained right foot. Curry was withheld for precautionary reasons and was seen exiting the Smoothie King Center with his ankle taped but no real sign of a limp.
And if all that wasn’t enough, Magic Johnson held an impromptu press conference to announce he will be stepping down as the Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations. The botched Anthony Davis coup blew up the Pelicans’ season, the Lakers’ season and cost Dell Demps his job. Now add Magic to the list of casualties. I’m sure all of New Orleans will shed a tear tonight for the Lakers ever increasing incompetence.
On the court, the game was about as interesting as you’d expect between a team with the West’s No. 1 seed locked up and a lottery bound team playing regular season game No. 82. The two teams struggled to knock down shots early, with New Orleans owning a 19-18 lead after the first quarter. Then the Pelicans and Warriors resembled the top-five scoring units they both are, with Golden State scoring 38 and New Orleans scoring 37 in the next frame.
Golden State outscored New Orleans by nine in the third quarter, the teams played to a 24-24 draw in the fourth and the Pelicans season came to a merciful end when the final buzzer sounded.
Christian Wood made a case to hang around in the NBA next season with a career high 26 points and 12 rebounds. Ian Clark, going up against his former team, was three-happy shooting ten, but only hit on three attempts. Clark finished with 20 points but needed 22 shots to do it; and Jahlil Okafor scored a season-high 30 points and knocked down a career-best 15 field goals.
For New Orleans, the most maddening, frustrating, disappointing, topsy turvy season in franchise history is finally, mercifully over. The 2018-19 season was a complete dud and there will undoubtedly be changes before next season tips off. The Pelicans will soon announce their new permanent general manager. They could have a new coach. Anthony Davis will almost certainly be playing somewhere else and the Pelicans will have a fresh batch of faces and picks to surround Jrue Holiday with. This season sucked in every sense of the word.
At least it’s over — see ya on the other side!