Pelicans Give it All, Fall Short to Clippers

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Published: March 22, 2015

Monty Pregame Thoughts

“Since I have been here, we have shown that we can beat them here.. but it’s not an easy task.”

The news that Anthony Davis would play in this game drastically changed the Pelicans’ fortunes.  It’s not that Asik and Tyreke aren’t valuable to this team — it’s simply that Anthony Davis is always a trump card. And that was apparent early. Poor entry pass to Blake Griffin, Davis steal. Davis face up, splash. Davis face up 2.0, splash. It did not take long for Davis to make his impact on the game. But he wasn’t the only one, as the Pelicans got off to a blazing hot start.  Things were good early on for the Pels, not so much for the Clips.

But the Clips got it together — Griffin got a couple of transition buckets, Redick pump-faked Quincy Pondexter into oblivion after receiving a kick out for 3 in transition, and then nailed a pull up after side stepping. DeAndre Jordan had a vicious putback dunk. Davis lost track of Griffin, who caught the ball under the goal, scored a bucket, and earned the foul. Before the 1st quarter ended, the Clipers closed a gap that was both a product of Davis’s amazing impact and some very fortunate shots by the Pelicans.

The beginning of the 2nd quarter offered a great opportunity to build a solid cushion before the Clippers starters came back in.  And by the looks of things, they were going to, as they shot out to a 5 or 6 point lead.  But they let the Clippers back in and essentially wound up holding the score even. Not ideal, but there are worse things.

Speaking of worse things, the amount of unforced turnovers that the Pelicans commit sometimes can be astounding. Passes off people’s legs, bounce passes directed to people’s ankles. These kind of turnovers clustered together create some 4 to 6 point swings that wind up determining games.

Just as the Clippers seemed to be pulling away, Eric Gordon stepped up and drilled back to back 3s. Ajinca cleaned up a miss with a follow up jam and then AD soared for an OReb, made his shot, and Cunningham got fouled simultaneously. DC would miss his free throw but the Pels went into the half up 3.

The Pelicans came screaming out of the locker room, once again led by the fantastic play of Anthony Davis, who extended his perfection from the field. But the Clippers received some questionable calls and immediately carved into the lead the Pelicans built at the beginning of the half.  Sense a theme here?

The Pelicans would go down 8 after a few horrible possessions where they burned the shot clock without anything resembling a threat.  And then Davis/Cole came back in and things changed — perhaps somewhat attributable to the Clippers’ horrible bench.

The Final Stretch

Man, i hate complaining about officiating, but there were some horrible calls tonight, and a huge one when an AD putback dunk was wiped away because it was “in the cylinder.” The points were taken away, Redick nailed a midrange curl, and then sunk a free throw after a Monty tech. Pretty big swing.

Blake Griffin had a few key plays down the stretch.  One was on a poor double-team where he swung the ball to Redick on the opposite wing.  He also scored on two switches — one with Cole and one with QPon. QPon actually did very well to keep him in front and not get backed down quickly, but there was no help, and alas, Griffin scored.  It’s tough, because Griffin is a great passer and you have to double him well given that ability + DJ, Paul, and Redick.

It was curious how little Anthony Davis touched the ball given how hot he was and that he is, you know, one of the best players in the world. But the Pelicans ball-handlers simply couldn’t get him the ball and few of them actually mounted a threat in the 2nd half.  The shooting cooled off and the Pelicans didn’t find other ways to score. Couple that with some of the officiating blunders and you have a recipe for a loss.  I don’t mean to blame it on officiating, because the Pelicans didn’t outplay the Clips — but there were some mistakes at key times and it just didn’t help matters.

Oklahoma City won today, which may have put the kibosh on the Pelican playoff hopes.  But hopefully the Pelicans can get some of their players healthy and make a late charge towards a successful season (which doesn’t require a playoff berth).  Things could be a lot worse given the untimely injuries that the Pelicans sustained this season.

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