Pelicans get last laugh in unusual victory over Nets in double overtime
How do you describe it?
In the ebb and flow of NBA games, there are high points and valleys, some which are deep, for each team participating. The key is to have more runs and bigger runs than the opponent, getting enough stops in the process.
How do you explain what happened at Barclays Center Saturday night?
Less than 24 hours removed from an embarrassing effort and loss at Philadelphia, the New Orleans Pelicans responded the way you wanted to see them respond, with great energy and purpose.
New Orleans built a commanding 72-52 halftime lead and expanded the lead to 28 points in what looked to be a sure blowout.
Inexplicably, the Pelicans blew the lead as the Nets forced overtime and took the lead in the extra period. Jrue Holiday helped lead New Orleans back to force a second overtime. The Pelicans responded and took control in the second extra period, going on a decisive 7-0 run to take home a strange victory, avoiding an even bigger embarrassment than the one Friday night.
In a span of 30 minutes, the Pelicans went from a laugher to potentially being laughed at to getting the last laugh. It wasn’t funny in the moment and it was a relief in the end.
The one-game experiment of starting DeAndre Liggins ended after he made no impact in the loss at Philadelphia Friday night.
Rajon Rondo returned to the starting lineup and did so with gusto, producing his best game of the season.
Rondo had a season-high 25 points, dished out 12 assists and pulled down 10 rebounds in 42 minutes. Clearly, Rondo responded to the challenge. Liggins went from starting to playing just three minutes without a point.
Nikola Mirotic came up big as well, scoring 21 points, pulling down 16 rebounds, blocking five shots, coming up with two steals and dishing out an assist in 49 minutes.
Then, there was Anthony Davis.
The superstar played like it after a pair of subpar games. Davis went for 44 points, 17 rebounds, six steals, three blocked shots and two assists in 50 minutes.
Jrue Holiday came up big in overtime and finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Cheick Diallo continued to make the most of his limited minutes. Diallo injected energy in his 12 minutes, scoring eight points and pulling down seven rebounds as he continues to make the case for more playing time.
The road trip concludes in Detroit Monday night against the rejuvenated Pistons with Blake Griffin. Like New Orleans, Detroit is battling for a playoff spot. The Pistons are 27-27, including 5-1 with Griffin in the fold. They are ninth, a game and a half behind the 76ers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
With the win, the Pelicans moved back into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, a half game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers, who lost 112-98 at Philadelphia Saturday night.
The win was important for obvious reasons. The Pelicans must get over the loss of Demarcus Cousins, mentally as much as physically. To do so, they need players to step up. As stated many times, they need Davis and Holiday to shine and combine for 50 points regularly. At that number, wins are sure to follow. Rondo and Mirotic stepped up Saturday night.
The victory was just the second for New Orleans without Cousins. Now 29-26 with 27 games remaining, it will take a winning record the rest of the way to make the playoffs in the West. The magic number to get in is likely going to fall between 43-45 victories. If New Orleans gets in, the game of wild swings at Brooklyn will be one that you can look back on as a deciding moment.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…