1. Despite a Demarcus Cousins ejection the New Orleans Pelicans behind a strong game game from Anthony Davis was able to dispatch the Oklahoma City Thunder handing them a second straight loss. Boogie went out at the 5:00 mark in the third quarter after receiving a flagrant 2 for landing a pretty big elbow to Russell Westbrook’s neck as he was clearing out space after grabbing a defensive rebound. This ended a pretty volatile yet familiar sequence where Boogie didn’t agree with a set of calls and ultimately ended up in him losing his cool and committing the aforementioned act.
Surprisingly (or not surprisingly given the subject) Cousins wasn’t having a bad game until that very unfortunate sequence. He had tallied 18 and 9 with three steals and a block. Sure his three ball wasn’t falling as he went goose egg in five attempts but he was having his normal impact on the game. The reason I’ve stayed on this for so long is because at the time Boogie’s ejection the Pels were faced with a five point deficit and by the collective groans in the crowd it most definitely didn’t appear to be the best look.
I suppose this is why they have Anthony Davis. AD put on a masterclass last night with 36 points, 15 boards and a pair of blocks. His 14 fourth quarter points carried the comeback with it all coming full circle when he hit the deciding fadeaway jumper with 47 seconds left to give them a 108-102 advantage effectively extinguishing any comeback hopes. While AD’s final frame was a quite the sight his free throw shooting is the story of the night. We normally talk about guys living at the line but last night Brow bought the whole block. Davis attempted 22 foul shots in the game making good on 18. Wayment, 22 FOUL SHOTS? Yes, 22. To put this in perspective of the busy slate of 11 games last night around the association AD by himself attempted more free throws than 10 teams. I think this is a good place to end here.
2. The Pels got some really good point guard play last night (yes, I know who their point guards are) going a long way in getting a number of guys incorporated which is a bit of a rarity in New Orleans. Rajon Rondo, healthy and still in the honeymoon phase, tossed 8 dimes including two crucial assists on consecutive possessions to Davis and E’Twaun Moore (who chipped in 12 points while manning the 3 spot) respectively extending their lead to 8 with a little over five minutes left in the fourth. Jameer Nelson chipped in 9 and 4 in a solid 18 minutes. With Jrue Holiday continuing to grow into his role as their 2 guard (and his 18 points last night would indicate that he’s heading that way) Rondo and Nelson has done a commendable job at feeding guys (particularly other role guys) to help establish some consistent offense outside of their big 2.
Defense could arguably have been seen as an afterthought given that OKC did have some pretty impressive performances but the Tony “Grindfather” Allen and Darius Miller deserve some recognition here. TA did what TA does complete with missing a VERY easy layup but as always his defense especially late was on point. This is no small feat considering that there are roughly four people on that floor he may have to guard at any time.
But I have to showcase Darius Miller here. Miller was seen as on of the most vital free agency acquisitions over the summer since the Pels had nothing at the 3. He’s had a pretty rough start to the season but last night he gave a performance that New Orleans definitely would like to see more of. His 11-7-4 on 4 of 5 shooting was just the offensive spark needed off of the bench while he looked the part on defense especially against the Thunder second stringers. This kind production is perfect evidence that if the Pelicans are to see any significant success this season the other 10 guys on the roster have to contribute.
3. This marks another loss as well as another example of the limited chemistry and cohesion of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook tallied another triple double with 22-16-12 but all was for naught as the Thunder dropped another game due to their inability to close games out. Paul George looked especially good as the high man for OKC with 26 points and 5 steals just in case you though he snoozed on D. Carmelo Anthony scored 19 albeit on 7 of 19 from the field. He also grabbed 9 boards and got 4 steals himself. But if you know anything about this team it’s that these three are not the problem, on paper at least.
As awkward fit issues are still getting worked out the bench still has yet to effectively produce. Aside from another impressive showing from Jerami Grant with 10 points in 19 minutes the bench only produced 13 points. Alex Abrines scored seven on 2 of 6 shooting while Raymond “Fat Felt” Felton scored 6. Felton somewhat gets a pass since he can facilitate outside of scoring and has looked good in sets that he shares the backcourt with Westbrook. Abrines looms as the disappointment here. He along with the inability of Andre Roberson (2 points but that D tho’) to score effectively possibly hindered the their progress the most in terms of rotation guys . However, for a nine loss team there’s plenty of blame to go around.