Pelicans return to the Post Season by ending Spurs Win Streak

Published: April 15, 2015

Every team that makes the leap has a few moments you can look back on and remember clearly.  Games or moments that tested their mettle and honed them rather than broke them.  I can’t predict the future – I thought we were experiencing this back in 2007.  This could go that way and be soured – or it could be one of those moments that is just a start to something incredible.  I can’t help but feel it’s the latter.

The Spurs wanted this game.  They were throwing punches as they went down, and don’t let anyone tell you different.  Parker, Leonard and Duncan all played much more than their season averages in minutes and Ginobili was only a minute short himself.   They unleashed the Hack-an-Asik in the fourth to narrow the lead and break what resistance the Pelicans had in the interior, and it almost worked.

But it didn’t.  The Pelicans were able to hold on with a combination of nice play calls, brilliance by Evans, and the cat-quick reflexes of Anthony Davis, who spent last six minutes battling about 700 lbs of combined weight in the paint between Duncan (250) and Diaw (ahem) and coming out on top.

The guys were emotional afterwards, and I won’t deny that seeing that blazingly happy crew after the game (Davis wanting to rejoin his teammates, Monty with his family) didn’t get me a little too . . .

You need to remember, this might be Davis’ grand entry into the playoffs – but Evans and Gordon just broke through themselves after stretches of NBA futility that had to be weighing on them.  Good on you, guys.  Everything from here is Gravy, and enjoy it.

Other Observations

  • Cole unleashed the beast in the second quarter – and kept counter-punching the Spurs as they tried to make a first-half run.  Monty used him perfectly.  As soon as Cole went heat-check jumper instead of penetrating and getting shots in the flow, he pulled him.  In the second half, he played him, saw they had switched the defense on him and he wasn’t getting the same looks, and went instead with Jrue.
  • Those two guards off the bench were key.  24 points on 19 shots is good work.
  • Jrue got 25 minutes, up from the 15 he had been getting.  Monty gave him 10 minutes in the first half, 5 in the third, and rode him from the 9-minute mark in the fourth, keeping him out there in crunch time.  The difference he made on the defense on Tony Parker was significant.  Can you remember a big shot from Parker in the fourth?
  • Speaking of Defense, you have to give Asik a world of credit.  Do you know what Duncan did while Asik was on the floor?  6 points, 3 rebounds.  That’s it.  He battled and fought and helped and did everything you could ask of him – and I’m 100% convinced that the reason the Spurs almost took the game was the fact he wasn’t clogging the middle in the fourth and Ryan Anderson was a tire fire on defense.
  • Davis was pressing a bit in the first half – making a move before corralling the ball, trying a little too much with the dribble.  But he settled down, kept attacking, hit some big shots and got some golden blocks on the defensive end.  His statline was 31 points on 26 shots, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks and 6 turnovers.  And perversely, it feels like he didn’t play as well as he could.  I take this guy for granted.  I’m a bad person.
  • Evans was a wrecking ball – especially when they didn’t run a pick and roll for him – which forced his guy to play him one-on-one without any big man containment help.  Tyreke’s handle makes that pretty dicey against some defenders.  I did get a little worried when the team started running iso’s for him against Belinelli that the offense was bogging down, but it was three possessions, it didn’t generate the right results, and they abandoned it.  Good call.
  • Anyone else dying in the fourth when the Pelicans kept barely getting it over the line in 8 seconds?
  • Monty has a sweet play to get Gordon a straight-away three.  Gordon cuts to the elbow and sets a screen for Davis who is flashing across the paint and runs out to set a pick for Tyreke on the wing.  Tyreke charges towards the free throw line past Davis’ pick, which forces two defenders to cut him off.  Davis blitzes towards the baseline like he’s expecting the lob, which forces Gordon’s guy to account for him.  The end result is three guys running towards the basket to contain Davis and Evans – and Evans simply flips the ball back to Gordon who has flared to the top of the three point line.  This has been in their playbook the past three weeks – and they ran it twice tonight for open threes by Gordon.  Good stuff.
  • Monty made a bad call in the fourth by inbounding the ball under the Pelicans basket when the Spurs were trying to foul.  Yes, I know the idea is to spread the floor and get, theoretically, more space to play with and inbound into.  The problem is a turnover resulted and the Spurs were right there at the basket.  The Spurs are looking for quick scores at that point, and that turnover gift wrapped a quick 3 points that only took 3 seconds.
  • Much will be made that the Pelicans held a hot-shot volume 3-point shooting team like the Spurs in check from deep, but I felt they only did an okay job at that.  There were fewer threes because the Spurs were getting penetration to the rim against the Pelicans and getting shots there.  Why shoot threes when you can shoot layups?

Bring on Golden State!


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