Led by an absurd 41 points and 13 rebounds from Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans picked up a massive 121-116 victory over the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night. LAC was battling from behind throughout most of the game before mounting a charge in the fourth quarter. The Clips eventually took a brief lead, but Davis proved to be too much to handle.
Montrezl Harrell was undoubtedly the most influential and impactful player for the Clips on the night. Trezz came off the bench to lead the charge with 26 points and eight rebounds, but it wasn’t enough. LAC’s starting unit struggled tremendously outside of Tobias Harris. Harris contributed 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but the other four starters combined to score just 30 points. Lou Williams additionally chimed in with 27 points and 11 assists of his own.
New Orleans also got 19 points and 17 assists from Jrue Holiday as they won their ninth straight game overall. The Pels have now pulled ahead of the Spurs for sole possession of fourth in the West with a record of 37-26. The Clips got a gift earlier in the night when the Mavericks shockingly beat the Nuggets in Dallas, but they were unable to uphold their end of the bargain. As a result, the Clippers remain a half-game adrift of Denver for the final playoff spot in the conference.
The Clippers came out looking nice in the new City edition uniforms, but they apparently forgot how to play basketball. The Pelicans came out and promptly scored 11 points in less than two minutes to take a 12-2 lead, which prompted a Doc Rivers timeout.
The Clips looked primed to get run out of their own building as the Pelicans did whatever they wanted on offense. Things started to swing in the other direction once Montrezl Harrell was introduced, however. Trezz came in and sparked the offense immediately, scoring a quick 10 points to help LAC close the deficit to eight with a couple of minutes left in the first.
The first 12 minutes looked more like an All-Star Game than an NBA game between a couple of playoff contenders. There was no real evident offensive game plan from either team other than to run the ball as quickly from end-to-end and take the first available shot. The Pels racked up 13 assists on their 15 made shots, while the Clips had seven on 12 makes in the opening frame.
Thanks in large part to Harrell’s energy, New Orleans led by just eight after one.
Once the second began, we got more Montrezl. The Pelicans tried to Cheick him with Diallo, but nobody was stopping him. Harrell was a completely unstoppable force on the block, which is not something I could’ve imagined writing in November. Diallo has some potential, but he’s nowhere near strong enough to body up Harrell. The Clippers obviously knew that, and decided to exploit it over and over.
LAC actually took the lead for a brief spell before Harrell was subbed out. Anthony Davis subsequently went to the locker room with an apparent rib injury. Despite that swinging the door wide open for the Clippers, New Orleans went on a 13-1 run to end the frame without him. Jrue Holiday completely took over from that point. He scored eight straight points all by himself as the Pels opened up a hefty 67-52 lead at the half.
The Clippers’ effort defensively over the game’s first 24 minutes was lacking, at best. New Orleans shot better than 48 percent in the first half and hit eight of their 17 triple tries despite the fact that Davis logged just 15 minutes. Noted punch victim Nikola Mirotic scored 13 points off the bench and capitalized on a number of wide open looks.
Other than Montrezl’s scoring (16 points), DeAndre’s activity on the glass (14 boards at the break) and Lou’s playmaking (seven dimes at halftime), nobody played all that well for L.A. in the first half. The Clips made just one three in the first half on nine attempts.
Davis returned to the floor for the Pelicans after halftime. Doc also threw a wrinkle into things, opting to start Montrezl over Wesley Johnson to start the third. Unfortunately, Trezl’s presence didn’t pay immediate dividends after the break for the Clips, as back-to-back jumpers by Emeka Okafor (really?) prompted a Doc Rivers timeout.
Things just kept going south. The Clippers couldn’t get a stop to save their lives, and things weren’t coming easily offensively, either. Lou came back into the game earlier than usual after Rajon Rondo’s third three of the game extended the Pels’ lead to 20. DeAndre’s reluctance to extend his defensive range to the three-point line led to a couple of threes from AD, his first two makes from deep on the night. After a quiet first half, Davis scored 11 points over the first six minutes of the third period. He added his third triple of the quarter a few minutes later.
The Clips’ coverage was a complete mess in all facets at this point. All three of Davis’ made longballs came off of pick-and-rolls, and the Clippers defended them all as though they’d never seen a PnR before.
Of course, because they’re the Pelicans, the Clips managed to mount a surge to end the third. An unconstested dunk from Tobias Harris narrowed the deficit to 12 before AD drilled yet another triple at the buzzer to re-establish New Orleans’ 15-point advantage heading in to the final frame. After not making much of an impact in the first half, The Brow suddenly had 29 points and 10 boards going into the fourth.
The Clips kept the foot on the gas. Austin Rivers, Lou and Harris scored three straight buckets to close the deficit to 10, which prompted Alvin Gentry to ask for time. Boban Marjanovic was at the scorer’s table and ready to come into the game, but the Pels countered by bringing Davis back in after the timeout. Instead of unleashing the Boban, Doc decided to pull him back.
The Clips suddenly started showing a renewed energy level defensively. A challenge on an E’Twaun Moore layup forced a miss, which led to a Lou triple at the other end. The Pels turned it over on the very next possession, and a flush by Trezz cut the New Orleans lead to just three at 102-99 with seven to play. Game on.
LAC subsequently forced a few consecutive turnovers, and a breakaway layup by Sindarius Thornwell knotted things up at 104. The Clips had several chances to take the lead, but settled for early-in-the-clock threes instead of searching for more high-percentage looks. The roof was going to blow off the top of the building had any of them fallen, but, unfortunately, they kept rimming out.
LAC’s continued defensive effort resulted in a few more stops, and a bucket from Williams finally gave the Clips a 108-106 lead with about three minutes to play. Moore converted an and-one on the very next possession, but Montrezl came back with a three-point play of his own to put the Clippers back on top by two.
Lou extended the lead to four with another basket, but then AD again realized he can do whatever he wants. He scored a tough driving layup, stole the ball on the next possession and then banked in another to bring things level once again at 113-all with 1:09 on the clock.
Davis once again proved unstoppable. He drilled a contested, turnaround J to put New Orleans back on top before Lou Williams was stripped by Jrue Holiday on the ensuing possession. Ian Clark then hit a couple of foul shots to put the Pels up four, but Lou came back and nailed a three to make things interesting again.
Clark hit a couple of more free throws on the other end, and that was that. L.A. put forth a valiant effort, but it ultimately wasn’t enough.