Pelicans.com postgame: Pelicans 109, Nets 104 (OT)
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
It’s too bad the New Orleans Pelicans aren’t eligible for the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs. Two days after knocking off two-time defending NBA champion Miami – winner of the East for three straight years – the Pelicans rallied from a 22-point deficit to overtake the East’s hottest team, the Brooklyn Nets. It was the second-largest comeback win in franchise history.
Behind one of the best games of Tyreke Evans’ NBA career, another All-Star-caliber performance by Anthony Davis and a strange turn of events involving Anthony Morrow, the Pelicans (30-40) won their third straight game, all against Eastern Conference opponents. The three-game run began with Friday’s road victory at Atlanta. New Orleans wrapped up its 30-game East schedule with a 19-11 mark.
A look at some of what made Monday’s victory one of the most memorable wins of the season for New Orleans, on the heels of a stirring 105-95 triumph vs. Miami on Saturday:
· Evans approached his career high of 35 points by finishing with 33, part of an all-around performance that also included 10 rebounds and seven assists. Since being moved into the starting lineup Feb. 28, he and the Pelicans have looked completely different. New Orleans has become one of the highest-scoring teams in the league, while Evans has transformed into something similar to – or better than – the player he was during his 2009-10 Rookie of the Year campaign with Sacramento. “When he’s in transition, there are not too many people who can stop him,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said. “He’s finding guys and finishing at the basket. He’s a talented player."
· By Davis’ recent standards, he finally played an “average” game, but still registered 24 points and 14 rebounds. He went 9-for-17 from the field and came up with an All-Star-level defensive play in OT, when he grabbed a Mason Plumlee layup attempt out of the air, resulting in a jump ball, then won the ensuing tip. Davis opened OT with a pair of free throws for a 100-98 edge.
· Morrow was ice-cold early in overtime, missing a couple of weighty shots that could’ve put the Pelicans in great position. Williams decided to sub Morrow out for Luke Babbitt, but referees ruled that Babbitt had not gotten to the scorer’s table prior to the next dead ball. So instead of exiting, Morrow stayed in and canned two crucial three-pointers. The first trey gave the Pelicans a 106-100 lead with 2:37 to go; the latter was a back-breaker for the Nets, making it 109-102 at 1:00. “I told (Williams) ‘good sub’ when he took me out,” Morrow said of initially believing he was coming out of the game. After the trifecta at 2:37, Morrow ran back on defense yelling “I ain’t gonna miss no more!” A smiling Williams: “The Lord blessed us. I was trying to get (Morrow) out of the game, then he comes right back and hits a shot.”
· Brian Roberts sustained what appeared to be a nasty knee injury on a drive to the basket in the fourth quarter, but after a full timeout, he was able to get back on the floor and drain two free throws. Roberts went on to sink a deep three-pointer in OT for a 103-100 edge at 3:04, giving New Orleans the lead for good. Williams: “I was wanting to take him out, but (Jon Ishop) our trainer was like, ‘Coach, he’s fine, let him play.’ If I’d taken him out, he would’ve gotten stiff. It’s probably best that he stayed in.”
After a poor first half and an equally sluggish start to the third quarter, the Pelicans trailed 66-44 after only two minutes of action. However, New Orleans outscored Brooklyn 29-10 over the remainder of the third period, cutting its deficit to just 76-73.
The Nets steadied themselves a bit in the fourth quarter, maintaining the lead all the way until the 4:52 mark, when an Evans layup tied the score at 89. Brooklyn had to rally from a five-point hole in the final 1:14 to force OT, but a Plumlee dunk and a Paul Pierce three-pointer created a deadlock at 98.
New Orleans held the upper hand for much of the extra period, however, improving to 5-0 this season in overtime.
“I’d like to give you something real cool for everybody to write but I’m not that bright,” Williams said when asked to explain his team’s OT success. “I just know we don’t give in. I think we were down (22). I just always tell our guys to play it out, hang in there, you never know what’s going to happen.”