Jrue Holiday

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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.

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Pelicans Make The Playoffs!

by Jordan McGuire on April 16, 2015

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In front of a red and sold out Smoothie King Center, the Anthony Davis-led Pelicans achieved an incredible playoff berth against all odds. The New Orleans Pelicans punched their playoff party ticket on the final day of the NBA regular season with a 108-103 against the San Antonio Spurs. Pelicans will match-up against the No. 1 seeded Golden State Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

In the biggest game of the Pelicans’ young franchise they played with emotion, energy, togetherness and mental toughness. They had a 23 point led at one point during the game and held on to win by a mere five points. It was without a doubt the biggest win of Anthony Davis and Monty Williams’ career as Pelicans. “We went to AD down the stretch and he came through on both ends of the floor,” Monty Williams said. The two were emotional after the victory and Davis expressed his love for his head coach.

Tony Parker had an outstanding first half and scored a team high 23 points and Boris Diaw finished with 20 points. The loss for the Spurs dropped them to the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoff standings. If they would’ve won last night, they would’ve knocked the Pelicans out of playoff contention and secured the No. 2 seed.

Anthony Davis finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds. Tyreke Evans played well down the stretch scoring 19 points and dishing out 11 assists. A huge second half shooting performance helped Eric Gordon scoring 14 points. Also, big performance from the energetic Norris Cole both offensively and defensively. The flat-top Cleveland State alum scored a quick 10 points off the bench making his first 5-6 shots. He also did an outstanding job defending San Antonio’s backcourt.

And I’d like to thank Jrue Holiday for coming back and guarding, scoring and ultimately leading on the court. Jrue did a phenomenal job shutting down Tony Parker in the second half limiting him to tough driving lanes and forcing him to pick up his dribble.

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I’ll close with the greatest quote I’ve ever heard from future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, who added 15 points and 10 rebounds, reprinted here from an ESPN interview:

“We’re happy for him, very happy for him,” Tim Duncan said about Monty Williams. “He’s worked his butt off over these past couple years. Obviously, I wanted to win and that didn’t change anything, but I guess I get some solace in the fact that he made the playoffs.”

Actually I’ll close with this:

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PREVIEW: Pelicans Host The Warriors

by Jordan McGuire on April 7, 2015

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“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.

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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.

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