Play Breakdown: Cousins for 3

Published: April 7, 2017

The end of the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday’s loss to Denver game is going to be remembered for the two turnovers Jrue Holiday committed rather than any late game heroics. Other than the obvious (losing) it was a disappointing ending because it seemed like Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry would have been able to draw up a game winning play. Yes, I’ve seen the data on the Pelicans scoring after a timeout. But Tuesday was different. And that is because Gentry drew up a great play to tie the game at 131.

Let’s take a quick look at the (then) game-tying three pointer by DeMarcus Cousins.

The Pelicans come out of the timeout in a Horns offensive set. The wings (Solomon Hill and E’Twaun Moore) are in the corners. The bigs (Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins) are on the elbow. The ball handler (Jrue Holiday) is at the top.

As Holiday starts moving to his left Cousins steps out and sets a screen. Gary Harris has to go over the screen knowing that Holiday might pull up to shoot if he has space, and because he has no room to the left if he goes under because of Davis.

After the screen by Cousins, Davis steps out and sets a second screen forcing Harris to trail behind Holiday even further. Because Harris is so far behind Holiday, Danilo Gallinari has to show (take a step out and cover Holiday) for a moment before recovering back to guarding Davis.

But that one quick moment leaves Mason Plumlee alone on an island. He has to choose between guarding Davis or Cousins. Cousins pops out to behind the three point line while Davis starts to roll towards the rim. Plumlee tries to take away the roll. But instead, Davis sets a screen on Plumlee giving Cousins all the room he needs. With Gallinari out of position and Davis blocking Plumlee, Holiday takes a step back, makes the easy pass to Cousins who hits a wide open three to tie the game.

People get upset when they see Cousins hanging out around the three point line, but the Pelicans newest big man is shooting 38% from deep this season. Having a big who can stretch the court like that, to a place where other bigs usually are not comfortable defending, really opens up the court.

It’s a shame the Pelicans didn’t have the opportunity to run a play or two at the end of the game to try and win, because I’m sure Alvin Gentry had something good up his sleeve.