This Anthony Davis and-1 didn’t win the game for the New Orleans Pelicans. But if Monty Williams’ team makes good on its current half game lead for eighth in the Western Conference and earns a playoff birth, this is the moment Pelicans fans will remember for years to come.
Davis didn’t have a good first half versus the Golden State Warriors. The 22 year-old superstar scored just six points in the opening stanza, and his only baskets came via alley-oop. With the Pelicans in desperate need of a win against basketball’s winningest team, the moment seemed too big for third year veteran. All stars experience those growing pains, right?
Maybe, but Davis seems like he isn’t going to. Leading New Orleans back from a 55-43 halftime deficit, The Brow scored 23 of his game-high 29 points after intermission – and none were bigger than his old-fashioned three-point play with his team up 96-95 and the game clock reading 1:21. By the looks of his primal fist pump, Davis knew it, too.
The Warriors would come back to tie the game 40 seconds later, but a questionable foul on Andre Iguodala immediately thereafter allowed Tyreke Evans to make one of two from the free throw line. And despite an open, off-balance, and game-tying three-point attempt from Steph Curry in the clock’s last ticks, New Orleans escaped with a 103-100 victory.
The win and a Thunder loss put the Pelicans in sole possession of the West’s last playoff spot. Due to New Orleans holding the head-to-head tie-breaker over Oklahoma City, their .5 game lead in the standings looms larger than it appears, too.
It’s never looked more likely that Davis and company would defy the odds and break into the Western Conference playoff field years earlier than anticipated. New Orleans has dealt with its now normal spate of injuries all season long, and the team’s road to a gritty 42-35 record has been far less than smooth as a result.
But with Davis leading the way in the face of season-long and game-by-game adversity, the Pelicans are suddenly favorites to steal the 8-seed from the Thunder. Now, only if they wouldn’t have to face Golden State in round one…