Pelicans Lose an Absolute Heartbreaker to the Warriors

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Published: November 26, 2013

People love sports because of the way these games make us feel. Most of us grew up watching a mother, a brother, a father, an uncle get emotional while watching their favorite team play. Subconsciously, or maybe even consciously, we wanted to feel that passionately about something too, so we took to sports. We chose a favorite team – be it a hometown team, or a loved one’s favorite team, or maybe just a team that was winning championships at the time – and we became heavily invested in their wins and losses.

And there is the rub with sports. In order to get those emotional highs that leave you high-fiving strangers at a run down bar, you have to also accept that you are going to have the lows – those games that leave you with a pit in your stomach. Your appetite is non-existent, and even your most severe real-world problems are trumped for a few moments by the failings of a handful of men that you don’t even really know. It doesn’t seem rational when you look at it from the outside, but almost nothing about sports or our love for it is rational. It’s an emotional experience. Some nights you leave floating on clouds, other nights you are gut punched.

Tonight, we were gut punched.

You can break down the game and all its X’s and O’s (and I will do that in Notes and Observations), but sometimes you just have to appreciate the experience. You have to appreciate the fact that this feeling is a good thing, because it proves how much you still care about sports. I mean, really, in this day of reality TV, franchise films, and social networking, how often do you really feel something?

Tonight, we felt something as that buzzer sounded, and it wasn’t the feeling that we desired, but it was a feeling nonetheless. We were disappointed because of our expectations for this team and our hope that they could pull out this particular game. They did not succeed tonight, but we have expectations and we have hope again – two things that weren’t present over the previous two seasons. This team is far from a finished product. A lot of work must be done to get them to fulfill their potential, but they have reminded us of ours. We are capable of caring and believing. We can have hope and expectations for a young team that has shown signs of great things. We can reinvest our emotions into a team that will be able to one day reward us for sticking by them.

Tonight it was a gut punch, but it won’t be that way forever.

Notes and Observations

– First of all, to those who have not seen the game and are looking for a score, I apologize that it has taken you this long to find one, but it was about more than the score for me tonight. Warriors 102, Pelicans 101.

– Starting at the end and working backwards: I did not blame Monty for not calling a timeout. The timeout would have allowed the Warriors to make a substitution – which would have likely meant taking out Jermaine O’Neal and replacing him with Draymond Green, who is a vastly superior defender. Monty trusted his young point guard and he got Eric Gordon a wide open look. It just didn’t fall. I would take that shot every time in a game winning situation. The real problem is that the Pelicans should not have been in that situation in the first place.

– So, you want to blame Monty? THIS is what you blame him for – Anthony Davis got 9 minutes in the first half. Nine. Yes, he had two fouls, but so what? You really think a guy who averages 3.3 a game is going to pick up another 4? You think the refs will call him on ticky tack stuff if he gets up to 4 or 5 fouls? Now, I am not using 20/20 hindsight, I tweeted in the first half that Davis would finish with just 3 or 4 fouls and the decision to be that conservative would look foolish. It was.

The Warriors scored 30 points in the paint in the first half with Davis on the bench (just 18 in the 2nd half) and the Pelicans trailed by 8 at halftime despite scoring 31 in the 2nd quarter. No way to prove how this game turns out if Monty continues to play Davis with the two fouls, but one can take an educated guess.

– Other head scratching decision – Eight minutes for Brian Roberts in the first half and 25 minutes for Aminu compared to just 23 for Tyreke. Evans got to the basket at will, yet I looked at the box score halfway through the third quarter and he had just 11 minutes. You have a Warriors team with no inside presence and a wrecking ball of a guard in Tyreke Evans; seems like simple math. But not to Monty. He decided to play Evans less than half the game tonight.

– The Finishing Five unit is even more beautiful to watch than the CP3-Peja-West-Chandler-(insert player) unit in its prime. The spacing is amazing and the ball moves with such fluidity. And when they get the ball to Anthony Davis or let him clean up their mess, it brings the crowd to their feet. It was terrific again tonight, but came up a bit short. Could you imagine if that unit was on the floor to extend leads and not try to erase deficits?

– Jrue Holiday plays with so much more control now on the offensive end, and he is a beast on the defensive end. He is comfortable playing on the ball or off and is taking the ball to the rim more and more. Now, he just has to finish more frequently.

– If the box score didn’t say so, I would have never believed that Eric Gordon played 36 minutes tonight. He had short spurts where he was aggressive, and he seemingly got his points in bunches. I don’t know if he can only give that kind of effort for small spurts or if Monty just goes away from him instead of riding the hot hand. I have seen Gordon on a hot streak, only to be benched by Monty this year because his rotation says it is time to sit Gordon. I would like to see Gordon keep shooting, or at least playing, when he gets hot like that.

– At one point in this game, Jason Smith led the team with 14 FGA’s. Now that is just stupid. When I rank the guys I want getting shots, he comes in 7th, behind the Finishing Five and Morrow. I know that prevailing logic is that you take the open shot, but doesn’t it make you wonder why teams GIVE you that shot? Because it is inefficient and it prevents some of the other major weapons on your team from getting in a rhythm. As good of a shooter as Smith is for a big man, he just can’t shoot a shot every two minutes he is on the floor and expect this team to be successful long term.

– David Wesley focused on one particular play at a crucial stretch of the game in which the Pelicans ran a pick and roll with Brian Roberts and Anthony Davis, got the switch that they wanted, and Roberts just dribbled the ball instead of getting it inside to AD. The play resulted in a turnover. David Wesley wanted to state his true feelings, but he bit his tongue. A wise move, seeing that he works for the team. I don’t. Brian Roberts should not get a minute for this team moving forward. Under any circumstance. Ever. It was a nice little signing, plucked the guy out of nowhere and he hit some shots in a lost season and in meaningless preseason games. Good for him. But its time for this experiment to be over. For good.

– Ryan Anderson scored 21 points on 17 shots, but there were three or four attempts that just left you shaking your head. Look, I know he can’t just stand behind the arc and I love that he now puts the ball on the floor or goes into the post, but these fadeaway, turnaround 18 footers have got to stop. You are better than that Ryno.

– The Finishing Five is beautiful.

– Though the next three games are on the road (where the Pelicans are 1-5), they all are winnable. It would have been nice to have gotten this win, but those three might be even more important, as this team needs to learn to win on the road. December’s schedule is brutal, including a 5 game road trip against Denver, Golden State, the Clippers, Portland, and Sacramento. If they can’t learn to win on the road, we could be looking at a team that is 10 or more games below .500 heading into January.

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