Anthony Davis needed 28 points to become the first player in franchise history to score 28 or more points in six straight. He accomplished that by the end of the third quarter, and then he set his sights on a new goal. He had just recorded his career-high in scoring two nights prior against Portland, notching 36 in a loss. He surpassed that by hitting a huge jumper to put the Pelicans up 3 with 49 seconds left in the 4th. Then, after a miracle shot by Kris Humphries to send the game into overtime, AD set out to become the first player since 2012 to notch 40 points and 20 rebounds in a single game. He did that with just under two minutes left in overtime, as he snatched a board down in traffic and got it to Tyreke, who pushed it up court and got a layup to put the Pelicans up 5 in the extra frame.
Do something that has never been done in franchise history. Check. Achieve a personal best just two nights after setting the previous mark. Check. Accomplish something that no other player in the NBA has done this season. And, check again. And it took every single one of those points, every single one of those rebounds to overcome the Luck of the Irish on this St. Patty’s Day Weekend. This wasn’t a guy filling up empty stats in a blowout. Anthony Davis hit two huge shots down the stretch in the 4th, one of which should have been a game winner. Heck, they both could’ve been if not for a weak call on Aminu to give Jeff Green three free throws.
And the rebounds in overtime were just as big, as Davis ripped down six boards in heavy traffic in the extra frame to ensure that the Celtics were one and done on that end. Oh, and he had three blocks too. That seems so pedestrian compared to his other numbers, but nobody in the league averages three blocks a game, but for some reason when AD gets three it tends to get overlooked. But again, all of this was needed as the Pelicans escaped with a 121-120 victory.
Some have said that this is a lost season; that not making the playoffs and not having a first round pick is the worst possible outcome. I disagree. Over these last six games, we have seen Davis continue his transformation into full-fledged superstar. 33 points per game, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks on 58% shooting from the field and 90% from the line. And again, he is not stat stuffing on a bad team, as the Pelicans are 4-2 in that stretch and are a couple bounces from being 6-0.
Fans in Chicago got to see this in the mid-80’s. Magic fans got a taste in the mid-90’s, as did Spurs fans a few years later. Then, Cleveland fans are became Witnesses, and OKC was next. Now, it’s our turn. Right before our eyes we are seeing the future of the league coming into his own. Buckle in, it’s gonna be a heck of a ride.
Other Notes and Observations
– There was a debate early in this season about the pecking order on this team, and with Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday out, we probably won’t be able to solidify roles until at least half way through next season. But one thing is clear, and that is Tyreke Evans gets the big piece of chicken when it comes to the guards eating on this team. For most of the game, Eric Gordon was used as a decoy while Evans sliced the middle of the Boston defense to shreds. In fact, the only time we really saw Gordon get aggressive was at the end of the third quarter when Monty gave Evans a rest. For the rest of this season, AD is the #1 option and Tyreke is #2. Curious to see what happens when Jrue Holiday returns.
– Brian Roberts struggled with his shot for most of the night, but the one thing you can say about him is that he hits big shots when it counts, and he did that again tonight. Also, it really is valuable to have a guy who can hit free throws at that clip at the end of games. Monty wisely played offense/defense down the stretch, subbing Rivers in for Roberts on key possessions.
– Speaking of free throws, Anthony Davis is 29-29 in his last three games. Like I have said in the past, you see a little bit of Durant in his game and in his stroke.
– Al-Farouq Aminu. Ugh. How could you do it twice? Twice! For those of you who didn’t see the game, Aminu fouled Jeff Green with five seconds left in regulation as Green rose up to attempt a game tying three-pointer. Then, with the Pelicans up 4 and sevens seconds left in overtime, Aminu fouls Green on a three-point attempt again! The only rule in that situation is not to foul. Aminu is a rule breaker I suppose. But I take solace in knowing that I only have to see him in our uniform 16 more times. Right, Dell? Right????
– Ryan Schwan said on our last podcast that Jeff Green would only be a marginal upgrade at SF. Jinx!
– Kris Humphries name has never come up as a guy who we should look at this offseason, but he does offer some things this team needs. His rebound rate is, and has always been, insane. He is good enough offensively that teams at least have to respect him on that side of the court, and he doesn’t foul nearly as much as Stiemsma or Ajinca does. Not saying he would be at the top of my list, but I wouldn’t mind adding him, especially if Jason Smith lands somewhere else.
– For other teams, it might be weird to see a guy go from starting to not playing a single minute, but that is normal in Monty Ball. Ajinca didn’t see the court at all, while Stiemsma and Withey each got 29 minutes. And it was Withey who got the minutes down the stretch and in overtime, in large part due to his great defensive presence at the rim. He blocked three shots, and changed numerous others. Monty said that soon he will move from trying to win every game to player development. Personally, I am looking forward to that so we can see what Withey does in extended time.
– The rotation got shortened tonight, and it was Anthony Morrow who was the odd man out. When he was in, the Celtics put Avery Bradley on him, and Morrow couldn’t get an inch of space. Then, in the second half, Monty staggered lineups and left AD in for the entire half, so only three guys got off the bench and Morrow wasn’t one of them. Just a bad matchup for him, combined with a cold streak. I expect to see a huge game again from him soon.
– Two days off before the Pelicans end the home stand by playing the Raptors on Wednesday. There are five or six more winnable games this month before a brutal April schedule that sees the Pelicans close with six Western Conference playoff teams.