Tyreke Evans

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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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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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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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Pelicans Fall Short To The Houston Rockets

by Jordan McGuire

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 […]

Pelicans Snap Hawks’ Nineteen Game Win Streak

by Jordan McGuire

Mondays aren’t always dreadful. The Pelicans had six players score in double figures to end the Atlanta Hawks’ franchise best nineteen game winning streak Monday night 115-100. It looked as if Anthony Davis’ left groin was doing just fine as he had another MVP-like performance with 29 points and 13 rebounds with multiple explosive dunks that whipped […]

Pelicans Fail to Keep Winning Streak Alive in Loss to Nuggets

by Jordan McGuire

Shooting an atrocious 32-82 (39%) from the field and 3-15 (20%) from beyond the arc isn’t going to get you many wins. The Pelicans failed to knock down open shots and weren’t able to get to that fifth straight win Wednesday night against the underwhelming Denver Nuggets squad. The Denver Nuggets snapped a seven-game losing […]