Oklahoma City Thunder

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Spurs are favored by five points tonight at the Smoothie King Center. They are also fighting for the two seed in the Western Conference. They are also the reigning champs of the basketball world. They have also won 11 games in a row.

But they aren’t fighting for their lives and aren’t one win away from making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The complexity of the Western Conference Playoff standings is so difficult that I had to run to Reddit to gather all the scenarios. Simplified, Pels advance with a victory against the Spurs, which is possible, or an OKC loss to the Timberwolves, which is incredibly unlikely.

The Pelicans won Monday night in Minnesota 100-88. Anthony Davis went for 24 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in the victory. With that win the Pelicans were one step closer to paradise, yet the Thunder managed to beat Portland causing the fate of the playoff dream to come down to one final game.

With a win, the Spurs will finish as the No. 2 seed. With a loss, the Spurs could drop as far as the No. 6 seed. This isn’t necessarily a “must-win” scenario for the Spurs, but this game definitely garners significant weight.

The New Orleans Pelicans have won two out of three meetings with the Spurs this year and the lone loss was when Omer Asik inadvertently tipped in the winning basket in his own basket. In these three meetings, Anthony Davis has averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game.

This could very well be a “make-or-break” game for perennial hot seat head coach Monty Williams. In an interview with ESPN, Williams said, “We get to play the champs on our home floor, our crowd should be crazy and our guys should have a good time with it.”

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Keys to the Game:

Out rebound and out hustle the Spurs. Pelicans front court of Davis and Asik need to grab both offensive and defensive boards and limit the Spurs to one and done possessions in order to win this game. Limit Duncan’s touches and keep San Antonio big men off of the offensive glass.

Keep Tony Parker out of the lane. Tony Parker will get the likes of Quincy Pondexter, Tyreke Evans, Norris Cole and hopefully Jrue Holiday tonight. Monty Williams does a good job of rotating able defenders to neutralize opposing stars. Pels must create physical match-ups with Tony Parker and keep him from getting our bigs in foul trouble or slicing through the lane for easy layups.

Ryan Anderson needs to hit shots early. The Flamethrower has been in somewhat of a shooting slump since his return. He has all the right offensive moves and footwork but needs to cash in with big buckets early to gain confidence. Also, Ryno, if you’re reading this, take a step closer and toe the three point line. There has been way too many opportunities wasted when a wide open three pointer comes up short simply because it is shot from four feet beyond the arc.

The crowd must be in every possession and supporting the Pelicans for the entirety of the game. Don’t get too low, don’t get too high. Know that the Spurs are one of the best teams in basketball. The crowd must have a playoff like atmosphere and will hopefully be close to full capacity.

Come support the Pelicans for their final game of the regular season. They will take on the San Antonio Spurs at 7pm.

 

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Pelicans Fall To Grizzlies

by Jordan McGuire on April 9, 2015

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After an amazing victory at the Smoothie King Center on Tuesday night, the Pelicans fall hard to the Grizzlies 110-74. The Pelicans now sit tied at the eighth spot with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Luckily for the Pels, they own the tiebreaker against the Thunder, which means they can finish the season tied with the Thunder and they will still advance.

Memphis had control of the game from the tip off. It honestly never looked in doubt for the hard-nose Grizzlies. They defend, they battle, the hit shots and they looked fresh and played with energy all game.

Zach Randolph finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, he actually had a double double going into halftime. Jeff Green and Marc Gasol each had 15 points to match Randolph’s output. The Grizzlies literally dominated in every facet of the game and took advantage of the worn down Pelicans.

Anthony Davis scored a team high 12 points. Only three Pelicans scored in double figures, Tyreke Evans with 10, Quincy Pondexter with 11 and Davis with 12. Eric Gordon struggled putting the ball in the basket going 4-13 (31%) finishing with nine points.

This by no means is the end of the world for the Pelicans. Are we inching closer to the Panic Button? Maybe. Is it time to push said button? No way. The Pelicans now get a day of rest and a day of preparation for the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are on their way out of the Western Conference playoffs as they sit 3.5 games behind the eighth spot.

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The Thunder are currently on a four game slide and will play Sacramento Friday night. The Pelicans will host the Suns in a must win scenario. Pelicans finish the season playing at home against Phoenix, on the road at Houston and Minnesota then come home to finish out the year against the reigning champs, the San Antonio Spurs.

The Thunder’s last four remaining games is an easier path as they’ll finish with a home game with Sacramento, travel to Indiana to play the Pacers, come back home to host Portland and then travel to Minnesota to close out the year.

The Pelicans will likely have to go 3-1 in this final four game stretch to make the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s history. Support the Pelicans Friday night at 7pm at the Smoothie King Center.

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Pelicans Hold on to Beat the Top-Seeded Warriors

by Jordan McGuire on April 8, 2015

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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.

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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.

 

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Pelicans Fall Short To The Houston Rockets

by Jordan McGuire on March 26, 2015

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Last night, Anthony Davis went for 24 points and 14 rebounds but missed a dreadful eight free throws on route to the 95 – 93 loss to the Houston Rockets. The team as a whole shot a disappointing 20-32 (62.5%) from the charity stripe and gave up too many open looks from in the paint and beyond the arc.

At one point, the Pelicans had a 17 point lead and crumbled in the second and third quarters being outscored 58 – 36. James Harden led the way for the Rockets scoring 25 points followed by former Hornet Trevor Ariza who scored 22 points going 9-13 from the field. The dark horse X-Factor in this match-up was the seven-footer from Lithuania Donatas Motiejunas. Try saying that name five times fast. The Lithuanian big man played 37 minutes and scored 21 points and seemed to have an answer to every Pelican basket. His footwork and touch with both hands around the basket gave the Pelican front court fits throughout the night.

Eric Gordon finished the night without making a basket but did shoot 6-8 from the foul line giving him six points. Tyreke Evans led the Pels in scoring shooting an incredible 4-6 from long distance and finished with 28 points. I think it’s safe to say we have found our point guard in the Crescent City. He powered by defenders, hit open jumpers and created havoc at times on the defensive end. Who knows if and when Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson will be back in the lineup of a team that’s playoff dreams are slowly fading away. Don’t know how much longer Pelicans fans can keep hitting the snooze button in hopes of making the playoff dream a reality.

This loss caps a four game losing streak for the Pelicans and pushes them to 3.5 games behind the Russell Westbrook-led Oklahoma City Thunder. Pelicans claimed that illustrious eighth seed for a brief moment before dropping six of their last ten games. Next up for the Pelicans is Friday, March 27 as they will host the Sacramento Kings at 7pm. Below is the current state of the race for eighth for the Western Conference playoffs.

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