Draymond Green

Steph-over-AD-Ryno-web

It was a heartbreaking finish last night in the Smoothie King Center for the raucous crowd in New Orleans. The Pelicans blew a 20 point fourth quarter lead to fall from cloud nine 123 – 119 in overtime against the Steph Curry-led Warriors. The first round playoff series 3-0.

MVP front runner Curry scored 40 points, including an insane and possible and-one three pointer with two seconds remaining in the final moments of the game. I am still dumbfounded that the Pelicans failed to foul Curry and force him to go to the line instead of letting a three pointer fly and tie the game. But that’s not what ultimately lost the game for the inexperienced Pelicans. Allowing offensive rebounds on almost every possession in the fourth quarter was the complete back breaker.

The Pelicans went into the fourth quarter on a major high as they led 89-69. An incredible offensive and defensive showing for the first three quarters that included a 19-0 run that spanded through the first and second quarters. Then, the fourth started and it was a swift yet long and agonizing crumble that will haunt fans and players alike as they enter Jazz Fest weekend.

Klay Thompson finished with 28 points, hitting big time shots throughout the entire night. The Pelicans did an average job of stopping everyone else on the Warriors except for Thompson and Curry. Draymond Green didn’t win the Defensive Player of The Year but deserves an Oscar for his childish flop during the game. Harrison Barnes followed suit as he too was hit with a phantom elbow, let’s see if the NBA grows a pair and fines the two thespians for their acting jobs.

Anthony Davis had 29 points and 15 rebounds but missed a pivotal free throw that could’ve put the Pelicans up four with under ten seconds remaining. This led to the Curry-like three to put the game into overtime.

The overtime period was deflating. The crowd was stunned, the players were stunned and Golden State kept pushing tempo and running the show. Pelicans were gifted a shot late but a worn down Davis failed to connect on a Bogut-contested runner that ultimately ended the dreadful night.

I’ll close this depressing piece with stat lines for the Pelicans. Eric Gordon finally went cold going 2-10 from the field with an abysmal six points. Tyreke Evans finished with 19 points but had four turnovers and was torched at times defensively. Ryan “Flamethrower” Anderson was one of the few bright spots shooting 10-14 from the field and hit huge jumpers over defenders like they weren’t even there. Norris Cole played great again scoring 16 off the bench and Jrue Holiday had 10. Quincy Pondexter needs to be like Stella and get his groove back. The swingman’s +/- last night was -31. That can’t happen, that’s inexcusable for such a good basketball player like QPon. We’ll see how the birds from the Crescent City respond Saturday night.

Pelicans will host the Warriors in a do-or-die opportunity Saturday night 7pm at the Smoothie King Center. A loss Saturday marks the end of a roller coaster like year for the Pelicans.

{ 0 comments }

Pelicans Hold on to Beat the Top-Seeded Warriors

by Jordan McGuire on April 8, 2015

reke-evans-web

The spirit of Jackie Moon and the Flint Michigan Tropics were upon us at the Smoothie King Center last night. The race for eighth place has a new front runner and its the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans score 60 points in the second frame to erase a twelve point deficit going into halftime and held on to win 103-100 against the NBA’s best, Golden State Warriors.

The win last night catapulted the Pelicans into the eighth spot of the Western Conference playoffs. The match-up last night could’ve potentially been a preview for the first round of the playoffs. The Pels are perched just a .5 game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder who lost 113-88 against the San Antonio Spurs last night.

Anthony Davis led all scorers with 29 points, 23 of which came in the second half. Curry led the Warriors with 25 points and had a chance to tie it at the buzzer but thankfully rimmed out. Draymond Green dominated the Pelicans scoring 24 points and grabbed 14 boards. For the Pelicans, the unsung hero Quincy Pondexter played an incredible game and had the crowd whipped into a frenzy with every big three pointer hit or every big defensive play. Q Pon finished with 20 points shooting a perfect 4-4 from beyond the three point line.

The game did not start pretty for the Pelicans as Andrew Bogut blocked layups and dunk attempts for the entire first half. Bogut would finish with nine blocks. Curry got hot, as usual scoring 16 of his 25 points in the first half. Anthony Davis had an abysmal first half as his plus/minus was -11. Then, the third quarter happened. The booze must’ve kicked in just at the right time for the home crowd as every basket was followed by a united roar. The comeback was on.

Davis went 5-6 in the third quarter alone to score 13 points. It didn’t stop there as Eric Gordon and Quincy Pondexter both knocked down consecutive threes to pace the Pelicans to a 79-78 lead going into the fourth.

Jump to about 3:00 remaining in the fourth quarter after a Steph Curry layup. Pelicans down 95-92 looking to be in a world of trouble. Defiantly the young Pelicans channel an 8-0 run and turned the Warriors over three times and ultimately hold on to victory.

AD-web

Keys of the Game:

Pelicans got out on the break in the second half and poured in 60 second half points alone. They hit timely threes and defended and rebounded when they needed to. Davis and Asik both recorded 10 rebounds in the win.

Steph Curry made the game close going 5-8 from three point range. The Pelicans frantically chased him around the three point arc but Curry’s quickness and insane ball handles created jumpers that sent “ooo’s” and “ahh’s” throughout the crowd.

Final key is the defensive job of Tyreke Evans, Dante Cunningham and Eric Gordon on Team USA Gold Medalist Klay Thompson. Thompson was held to only seven points shooting 2-10 from the field. Thompson was also forced into making four turnovers.

Next up for the Pelicans is the rugged Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. The race for the eighth spot continues as the Thunder will host the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

 

{ 0 comments }

PREVIEW: Pelicans Host The Warriors

by Jordan McGuire on April 7, 2015

David-Lee-vs.-Anthony-Davis-web

“Her life is in your hands, Dude. Mr. Lebowski asked me to repeat that: Her life is in your hands, Dude.” That’s what Coach Monty Williams is telling Anthony Davis about the Pelicans’ season-ending stretch. Every game counts as the Pelicans control their own destiny to make that coveted eighth spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.

Tonight the Pelicans will host the three-point assassins of the NBA, the Golden State Warriors. Led by the best shooting back court in NBA history, the Warriors are sitting pretty atop the Western Conference throne with an astonishing record of 63-14.

A little over a week ago, the New Orleans Pelicans were slotted 3.5 games behind the Russell Westbro– I mean, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now the birds from the Crescent City are a mere .5 game back and own a tiebreaker over the Thunder, thanks to a buzzer beating, three point heroic shot from a mint condition Anthony Davis.

Luckily for the Pels, Oklahoma City has lost three in a row and have dropped five of their last six games. Another reason to count our blessings is the fact that the reigning champs and the golden godfathers of the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs, visit Oklahoma City tonight. We’ve all just become Spurs fans and fans of all teams that oppose the Thunder for the remainder of the season.

Now let’s get to the juicy preview. Pelicans will have to learn how to defend the quick hitters and the three point bombardment that will inevitably take place tonight at the Smoothie King Center. The Warriors won the last meeting between the two 112-96. This doesn’t come as a surprise as the injury-ridden Pelicans were without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Omer Asik.

The long anticipated wait for Jrue Holiday is still a mystery. The young guns will undoubtedly have to sink deep down and defend well on the perimeter in order to win against the Warriors. The game will be played at a fast pace but the Pelicans will likely want to slow down and take the air out of the ball to limit fast break or quick shot opportunities for the Warriors. Steve Kerr has his guys trained to get open looks on the run and shoot at will when they’re falling. Match-up issues will be present on both ends of the court tonight as an undersized Eric Gordon might have to guard Klay Thompson, and an undersized Steph Curry might have to guard Tyreke Evans. This is where the key signing of Dante Cunningham and the acquisition of Quincy “Q-Pon” Pondexter come into play.

These two, along with Norris Cole, were absolute dynamite moves on the defensive side of the ball for Dell Demps and the Pelicans. Offensively, Pondexter has showed an amazing improvement to his outside game and has done an excellent job filling the role that Ryan Anderson has given the Pelicans time and time again. But defensively, Cunningham and Pondexter can guard everyone on the court except the center. They have done remarkable jobs keeping quick guards at bay and are able to defend and rebound in the same possession. Also the hustle is what makes them both so insanely likable. Both utility swing-men will play pivotal roles tonight as they both could guard anyone from Steph Curry all the way to Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green.

Stephen-Curry-web

Keys to the Game:

Play fast. But not too fast. Pelicans have the ability to run up and down with almost anybody in the NBA, but they don’t want to bite off more than they can chew with the Dubs from Golden State. If the Tyreke-led break can result in a quick layup or a penetrate and kick to Pondexter or Anderson trailing the break I say take it. Not only does Golden State have the most efficient offense in the league but they defend better than anyone in the NBA in the half-court.

Hedge high on every ball screen. The defensive rotation must be flawless when Steph Curry orchestrates the pick and roll. Defenders must hedge high and force Curry off the three-point line and force him to make plays dishing to rolling big men. We must make David Lee and Andrew Bogut beat us rather than letting MVP-candidate Curry to get going. Anthony Davis and Omer Asik must get quality interior rotation to limit free lanes to the basket and create difficult shots at the rim.

Feed Anthony Davis early and often. Whomever Steve Kerr puts on Anthony Davis is a match-up issue in my opinion. I don’t think anyone on the Warriors has the ability to lock down Davis. I can’t imagine David Lee trying to guard Davis 20 feet from the basket. Blowing by defenders is what Anthony Davis needs to do and then obviously knock down open jumpers. When the fourth quarter comes around, hopefully the fans will be on their feet chanting “MVP, MVP, MVP” when Anthony Davis steps to the line to solidify the much needed home victory.

Come support the Pelicans tonight at the Smoothie King Center at 7pm. After tonight, the Pelicans travel to division rival and currently third seed in the West the Memphis Grizzlies.

{ 0 comments }