New Orleans Pelicans Snatch Kings’ Crown, Thunder’s Playoff Control

Published: April 4, 2015

The New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Sacramento Kings 101-95 to improve to 41-34. The Pelicans took an early lead and never relinquished it, but The Kings surged several times, making this game a bit of a white-knuckled affair. There were several places where the wheels could have come off, such as when Davis sat to end the first half with 3 fouls, but the Pelicans turned a 9 point lead into a 14 point lead without him. No, the real difference was that after the Pelicans countered a 7-0 run with a 15-4 run (which is better), the Kings put together an 18-3 run (which is even better), combining for an 18-29 quarter in favor of the Kings. The Pelicans ended the quarter up 3. The fourth quarter was a mini version of this, with the Pelicans holding off the surge.

The surges were in part due to offensive lapses . . . forced shots, turnovers . . . but also due to improved rebounding by the Kings. The runs in the third were all characterized by the Kings’ rebounding. They noticed, and they kept it up in the fourth. There’s your George Karl factor for you.

In the pregame, I said Davis and Cousins would get theirs and that was a given. Davis finished with 20 points on 17 shots and 10 rebounds. Cousins had 24 points on 22 shots, 20 rebounds (all defensive), and banked 13 assists to round out his second triple-double in as many losses . . . fat load of good those do to unless you are a box score watcher. What I also said was that the Pelicans perimeter defense had to do something, particularly against the cabal of Casspi, McCallum, McLemore, and Stauskas. Those 4 ended up with 53 points on 40 shots. Stauskas was the run with just 5 points on 4 shots, but was still efficient relative to the team’s 95 points on 78 shots.

We can dissect the game all day long, but the short of it is that the Pelicans, should they make the playoffs will be bounced very quickly if they make it in, will get bounced maybe one game later if Holiday returns and can play defense. Which brings us to . . .

While the Pelicans were building the lead against the Kings, the Thunder lost against the Grizzlies, falling to 42-34, with just 6 games left to play. The Pelicans, while securing their non-losing season, rose to 41-34 with 7 games left to play following their win. This means the Pelicans’ number is 7, so with 7 games left to play, they control their playoff destiny. So, if the Pelicans win out, they are the eighth seed. If the Thunder lose 1, he Pelicans can lose 1 . . . no more. And so on.

Similarly, the Thunder have a number of 7, but with only 6 games left, they do not control their destiny; they need the Pelicans to lose a game to let them back into the playoffs.

Here are the Pelicans’ last 7 games:

@ Portland
v Golden State
@ Memphis
v Phoenix
@ Houston
@ Minnesota
v Spurs

Here are the Thunder’s last 6 games:

v Rockets
v Spurs
v Kings
@ Indiana
v Portland
@ Minnesota

Forget who has the easier schedule; just focus on the 7 games each team needs to pick up as a win or an opponent’s loss.

These schedules will be examined like an Area 51 extraterrestrial, and I’ll leave the probing to those more practiced.

I’ll stop here just to say that several games back I said that win or lose, playoffs of no, the drama in starting and that we should all be thankful for that. Playoffs or no, this is a classic battle between 2 teams fighting for 1 prize. Despite the injuries, despite the outlook, this team is the doorstep of an important psychological and business milestone. There were doubters, and there still are. That’s fine. Doubt and watch and support the team.

For these last few games, we all need to be on the same team.

Lastly, our last regular season watch party is a Tracey’s this Wednesday as we take on the Grizzlies. The Thunder are off that night but will have played the Rockets and Spurs, while the Pelicans will have played the Trail Blazers and the Warriors. Let’s get some people out to watch the Pelican’s Private Playoffs.

Interesting times.

Enjoy them.

RSVP to the party here: and spread the word.

Have a safe holiday.


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