On some nights, Anthony Davis can carry the Pelicans (36-30) on his back with his stellar play alone.
Tonight not even he could bear that burden as the Pels fell victim to the Denver Nuggets (26-41) in double overtime.
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Eric Gordon had his first rough night in a while. He shot 5-18 from the field and 4-11 from three.
Two long bombs in double overtime would have been fantastic had they gone in, but he may have been trying to push the issue a bit too much especially given how well Anthony Davis was shooting.
The Nuggets x-factor was Will Barton, who gave Denver a real boost off the bench with 25 points.It was his three that tied the game at 109 with 9 seconds left in the first overtime.
His shot making in the fourth quarter, along with Jameer Nelson (18 points) kept the Nuggets in the game long enough to make their run.Mar 7, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) shoots the ball during the first half against the Houston Rockets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Danilo Gallinari (who finished with 18) hit a dagger to put Denver up by 5 in double overtime. He was only 1-7 from deep before that shot, but the look he got was just too good not to go in.
He is a premier three point threat when healthy, and he showed it with that big shot tonight.
The Pelicans got outplayed at the free throw line (80% to 62%), points in the paint (64 to 48) , and perhaps most importantly points off turnovers (27 to 10).
The Pels have had some turnover troubles in recent memory, but usually these other categories make up for those mistakes. Tonight, the tiny battles all went Denver’s way.
Despite all of those losses, Anthony Davis almost willed the team to victory.
He filled up the box score with 36 points, 14 rebounds, 9 blocks and 7 assists.
All night Davis was playing with a fire in his eye that should have struck fear into everyone in the Smoothie King Center.
But that was not to be.
A flurry of clutch jumpers and layups from AD carried the Pelicans offense through the end of regulation and the beginning of overtime, but the ball just did not find him any later than that.
Barton’s 3 in the OT left about 10 seconds on the clock, but Tyreke Evans missed a layup to end the period.Mar 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans (1) shoots over Denver Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson (7) during the first half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Tyreke did post 25 points and 10 assists in his first game back from an ankle sprain, but his 6 turnovers really hindered the Pelicans offense.
On the other end, the quickness of Ty Lawson (19 points) was a big problem for Evans as well.
Games like these are a necessary reminder of how critical Jrue Holiday is to slowing down some of the league’s more slippery guards.
After Gallo’s big three in 2OT, the Pelicans got the lead back down to three and had the ball with a chance to tie.
Yet again the turnover bug bit as a pass flew out of bounds, leading to game sealing free throws on the other end for Denver.
The Pelicans have won multiple close games over the past two weeks, so they were due for a loss.
With that said, despite the effort of Davis they just did not deserve to win tonight.
These games are a necessity in such a tight playoff race, and they need to be capitalized on.
New Orleans will look to take back the eight seed on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Hopefully, they can do so without putting their fans through any more gut-wrenching moments, like tonight……..