Good news: the Pelicans’ purple-colored Mardi Gras jerseys finally hit the court. Bad news: the Brooklyn Nets, losers of 12 out of their last 14, almost spoiled the festivities. Great news: Jrue Holiday is very, very clutch!
Jan 30, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) shoots the game winning shot over Brooklyn Nets forward Thomas Robinson (41) during the final seconds of the fourth quarter of the game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans won 105-103. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
With a little over 10 seconds remaining in the game, Jrue Holiday buried a triple to put the Pelicans up by three. On the ensuing Nets possession, Joe Johnson answered right back with a deep three of his own.
So what does Holiday do? He drains an incredibly difficult fall away jump shot from just inside the three point line with a hand in his face with 1.3 seconds remaining. For my heart’s sake, I do not want to relive Johnson’s final half court heave, but once that shot finally landed safely on the hardwood, the Pels finally secured the win.
The Pelicans (18-28) are winners of 7 out of their last 9. They have won 5 of 6 contests on the current 7 game homestand, the longest of the season, which comes to an end February 1st against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Nets have struggled this season, but they sure know how to give good teams a run for their money. Of their 12 wins, 7 come against teams with winning records. The Pelicans are not in that group (yet), but they were almost handed a loss just the same.
The defense just could not get a stop in the fourth quarter.
Brook Lopez, who scored a game high 26 points, was getting everything he wanted in more down in the post. He has always been one of the most offensively gifted centers in the league, but some of the shots he was able to get off tonight were just too easy.
Thaddeus Young was quiet for most of the night, but he happily walked the red carpet the Pels defense laid out late in the fourth quarter. Possession after possession, Brooklyn was able to find both of these guys can’t miss opportunities down low.
Holiday and the offense bailed out the defense tonight, something that hopefully will not reoccur in the future.
I have mentioned Holiday a lot so far because he is playing awesome basketball.
Jan 30, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Markel Brown (22) handles the ball against New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) during the second quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Coach Gentry got away with playing Jrue only 24 minutes tonight, but that did not hinder his statistical output one bit. He finished with 26 points and 7 assists, including those clutch shots in the final half-minute to win the game.
A large majority of the Pelicans jerseys seen in the crowd over the past couple of years, have been number 23, and for good reason. That still may remain the case, but if Holiday keeps playing like this, number 11’s popularity will only continue to grow.
Seeing Holiday succeed is not only pleasing because he is helping the Pelicans win, but also because he is a genuinely good guy. He and Ryan Anderson are alike in this respect.
I love watching winning basketball, but it is that much better when guys I like to root for are the ones getting the job done. I hope that duo continues to light up the faces of the fans and scoreboards of the Smoothie King Center for years to come.
Jan 30, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) celebrates after making a three point shot during the second half of the game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans won 105-103. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Ultimately, no matter how well everyone else plays, the Pelicans success comes down to Anthony Davis. That is exactly why things looked grim in the first half: Davis was 0-9 with a whopping 0 points and 6 rebounds after the first 24 minutes of play.
Luckily, the switch flipped for the second, and he ended with 20 points and 16 boards. He hit a big three down the stretch as well when the Pelicans seemed to be losing their grip on the game, giving the team just enough life to get by.
The smallest of injuries seem to keep following the big man around, but when he is on the court there is no question he is a force to be reckoned with.
The Pelicans will finish off this homestand against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night (7 P.M. CST).
The loss in Memphis on Martin Luther King Jr. Day was brutal, but the Pelicans have plenty of momentum to propel them to a victory. A win against a Southwest Division rival would be a resounding exclamation point on what has already been a fantastic homestand for the team.
Hopefully they can keep the wheels turning……….