Published: March 21, 2014
Like a bad itch, it was just eating away at him. Monty Williams put in Luke Babbitt late in the 3rd quarter and it paid serious dividends, opening up acres of space for the rest of the Pelicans to operate on offense. His shooting was on, his hair was
questionable fabulous, and everything was going right. But Pero Antic is a big fella and was pushing Babbitt around down low and trying to steal his lunch money. Monty wanted to put in Greg Stiemsma so badly.
Then something amazing happened: nothing happened. Right after Antic hit a fadaway 2 from the baseline (plus the foul), Monty didn’t budge. We have seen him pull offense for what is perceived to be defense time and time again, but he didn’t pull the trigger. After a few more possessions, he had Stiemsma ready to sub in for Babbitt, but Babbitt forced his hand by drilling a 3 (and I’m sure Babbitt seeing Stiemsma at the scorer’s table had a lot to do with how quickly he hoisted that shot). Timeout was called, and I was shaking my head, waiting to hear “Greg Stiemsma has entered the game” from ‘Nique, who kept talking about what a difference Babbitt had made in the game. But again, nada. Monty took a risk and I loved it.
But like any other Pelican game, good news was met with a serious buzzkill, as it was announced in the 2nd half that Gordon (who left the game much earlier) had sustained a knee injury. It is reportedly a left knee injury and we will be sure to keep you up to date as we receive details.
Other than that, the game was a repeat of a very, very positive trend. Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans have been simply unstoppable in their time as starters together, and tonight was much of the same. AD wound up dropping 34 points and Tyreke posted 21 of his own. There were some pretty ugly turnovers mixed into each of their nights, but the positive tilted the scales like Glen Davis after dessert. Bad joke, but great stuff tonight from each of these guys.
The Pelicans had some questionable defense down the stretch, but they were money at the free throw line in the late 4th (even Rivers!) and escaped from Atlanta with a nice victory.
- I am running out of positive things to say about Anthony Davis. He is light years ahead of where he should be this early in his career. Every game is a showcase of a player that I can’t see being worse than a top 3 player in the NBA. He is a freak of nature, works hard, and is mature beyond his years. We are so freaking blessed.
- Tyreke Evans was a turnover machine to start the game but managed to get himself under control and have another very solid game. Teams know exactly what he wants to do and they just can’t stop him. It will be interesting to see how this holds up when he plays some tougher, smarter defenses, but right now, there aren’t really any negative things to say. Keep Rekeing Havoc, big fella.
- Luke Babbitt has already been mentioned, and his shooting was absolutely huge tonight. And as much as the inclination is to say that him guarding Antic is trouble, I really don’t think that many good things came from it. In fact, it may have even taken Antic away from the 3 point li…… okay, maybe that’s a stretch. Antic beat him for position on the boards and Millsap bully-balled him under the basket when Babbitt got matched up on him. But he wasn’t killing our defense, and when his shot is on, he changes our offense. He did that tonight.
- Austin Rivers got into a jawing match with Jeff Teague after blocking his shot at the rim. Didn’t see what they were saying to each other, but was a fun storyline that developed late in the game. Rivers’ defense was excellent to close the game, aside from a costly ghost foul on Teague late. He also fouled too much. But Rivers was a big part of the run in the late 3rd/early 4th and I thought he played very well tonight. He also hit a pair of key FTs at the end of the game.
- Brian Roberts is never the king of decision-making or defense, but once again hit some big shots and FTs down the stretch to help the Pelicans. I am still confused as to what has happened to his 3 point shot. He appears to have less confidence in it than he had last year and I’ve always felt comfortable with him shooting from deep. It puzzles me.
- I’ll be frank and say that I don’t really remember a lot of things that Al-Farouq Aminu did. I remember a big board and a key deflection, but not much else.
- Alexis Ajinca once again struggled with foul trouble. At one point in the game he spun into a ridiculous fadeaway off the glass (and yes, it was intentional). The offensive rebound putback was, er, ugly, but he also covered for a couple teammates on his 2 blocks tonight.
- Anthony Morrow’s shot was off tonight, but of course, that didn’t stop him from taking them. Fine by me. Morrow has bailed out our offense plenty of times and the only thing I question with him on offense is the occasional iso game he plays when he’s in heat-check mode. Anything else is gravy. Keep firing away, AMo.
- Greg Stiemsma only played 13 minutes tonight and Jeff Withey/Darius Miller didn’t get too much burn either. Don’t really remember much about their games tonight besides Mike Scott ripping away a rebound from Withey like he was made of tissue paper.
The Pelicans face the Heat tomorrow. Shall we see some more small ball?