At some point, you have to get over the hump. After numerous games against top-tier teams that saw the Pelicans fizzle late, they took the next step by defeating the Blazers 110-108 tonight. The Blazers didn’t seem to miss down the stretch, but the Pelicans remained unfazed and responded with big shots of their own. Jrue Holiday was especially clutch, scoring 8 of the Pelicans final 12 points (should have been 9, but the refs…. Ugh, don’t get me started..) to help secure a crazy back and forth game.
Jrue Holiday assisted on one of the other baskets (an AD layup) late, but the final shot was all Tyreke. With ten seconds left in the fourth and the Blazers down three, Damian Lillard hit a shot from Siberia to tie it up at 108. Monty Williams decided not to call a timeout, just like he did earlier in the year against Golden State, and this time it paid off. Tyreke Evans got isolated on the right wing, jab stepped and rose up for a jumper….Splash! Pelicans up two with 1.2 left on the clock!
Monty wisely put Ajinca on the inbounds passer and the Blazers had to settle for a LaMarcus Aldridge 20-foot fadeaway, which fell short. Pelicans win! And you know what, it was well deserved. They led for most of the game, and were victims of some horrible calls down the stretch, but still found a way. This team is growing right before our eyes, and they aren’t even at full strength yet. A road trip lies ahead, but this team has been competitive both at home and on the road lately. And now that they have experienced what they need to do to get over the hump, I’m betting that they do it more often than not from here on out.
Other Notes and Observations
– If the Pelicans would have lost this game, I was going to go on my first Monty Williams rant. And you know what, a win shouldn’t keep him from getting called out. At this point, playing Brian Roberts is indefensible. The Pelicans entered the fourth quarter up by 7, but then here was the sequence: Roberts and Evans can’t connect on a pass – turnover. Brian Roberts traveling. Brian Roberts bad pass, turnover. Holiday missed jumper. Then, Roberts missed pull-up three on a fast break. All of a sudden, the game is tied at 89, with less than 3 minutes gone in the 4th. Pelicans call timeout.
You can’t play him, you just can’t. And its not like it is Dell’s fault, and Monty has no options. He has Rivers. He can stagger Jrue and Evans, so one of them is always at the point. I don’t care what you do, just DON’T PLAY ROBERTS, under any situation, EVER!
– Damian Lillard is amazing offensively. Kid can’t play a lick of defense, but he is the best overall jump shooter I have ever seen. Not hyperbole. That is my honest opinion.
– Moving forward, I just want to see AD one-on-one with Aldridge all game. No help, no double teams. If he goes for 40, fine. But the Pelicans can beat this horrid Blazers defense, and the only way the Blazers can keep up is if they hit their three’s. I would prefer 20-footers from Aldridge all day, even if they usually drop.
– Best line somebody sent me on Twitter tonight:
– Its amazing when a guy goes for 27 and 12 with 5 blocks and is overshadowed by two teammates, but that is what happened to AD tonight. He was clumsy on his drives against Lopez, but he stayed active and got some easy dunks and a few big jumpers. But I hated his effort boxing out on free throws. He assumed Blazers would make them, and they usually did, but on one they missed and the Blazers got the board and followed up with a three. Unacceptable. And lucky for him, they didn’t miss more because this happened multiple times.
– Aminu has been so good lately. Just so good. Tonight he ran the court, rebounded tremendously, and was always deflecting passes. If he plays like this, I give him a three or four year deal this summer. I just hope he isn’t teasing us again.
– Best Description for the Blazers: They are that kid you play online in NBA2K who doesn’t play a lick of defense, but knows the perfect release point for all his shooters.
– I have seen a few people say that the Pelicans are better w/o Gordon and that is just crazy. Imagine Gordon getting the 33 minutes that Morrow and Roberts got tonight. They went 2-7, played bad D, and had 3 turnovers to just 1 assist. Gordon gets those minutes, and this game is a blowout. Would they be better with three good role players instead of Gordon? I think so. But they are not better off simply without him.
– Greg Stiemsma returned tonight. That is all.
– Ajinca played. And I’m done.
– Monty seemed to put Rivers in during stretches where he was trying to get stops. Good defense from Rivers and he provided 4 points on 1 shot. Now, if he can just get whatever blackmail photos Roberts has of Monty, we’ll be doing great!
– Anderson was used mostly as a decoy tonight, and while he scored only 13 points, you gotta imagine that the paint was so open because of him. And the Pelicans scored 68 in the paint. SIXTY-EIGHT.
– Shame Tyreke struggled so much early on in the season. He would be in the conversation for Western Conference All-Star if he didn’t. I will say it again, NBA Comparison: Bigger Rajon Rondo.
– Ryan and I will finally be taping a podcast tomorrow night. Drop any questions you might have below.