Five Thoughts From The Nets’ 126-121 Win Over The Pelicans, Including Anthony Davis Abruptly Cutting Off a Reporter’s Question (Video)Read Now
Here are some thoughts from the Nets’ 126-121 victory over the Pelicans at Barclays Center Wednesday night.
1. Nets made winning plays down the stretch after surrendering a huge lead
At the end of three quarters, Brooklyn was up 17 points and looked to be on their way to an easy win over a bad New Orleans team. Then the fourth quarter came and the Pelicans outscored the Nets 34-21. The defense got very loose, and offensively Brooklyn was out of sorts. As the lead shrunk to single digits, a familiar sense of gloom filled the air. When the Nets were mired in their losing streak earlier this season, this is exactly how they would lose games down the stretch. But they learned a lot about themselves and how to close out games and make winning plays in crunch time during that rough stretch and it paid off against the Pelicans.
Whether it was a timely rebound by Jarrett Allen or Ed Davis, a key bucket by Joe Harris or D’Angelo Russell, or defensive rotation from Jared Dudley, the Nets did what they had to do to hold on and win. Brooklyn will need to continue to build off of wins like this if they are serious about making a playoff push.
Following the game, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson talked about the growth and development of his team and what they showed down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
2. D’Angelo Russell was good
Dlo finished with 22 points, 13 assists, and a +21 rating. He wasn’t particularly efficient (9-21) but he made winning plays and clutch buckets. We have noted many times that Atkinson doesn’t play him down the stretch in close games. But Wednesday night the coach opted to play his enigmatic point guard alongside his usual closer, Spencer Dinwiddie. Dlo played a team-high 35 minutes and set up two key late-game buckets for Harris and Allen.
Dlo is what he is as a player, but if he’s able to make plays and show late game steadiness and maturity, he will force Atkinson to play him down the stretch. This team is serious about making the playoffs, and if that is going to happen Russell will need to be a major contributor. Dlo was asked postgame about playing crunch time with Dinwiddie, and said, “New year, new Kenny … I’m just playing.”
3. Jarrett Allen loves blocking star players
You can add Anthony Davis to Jarrett Allen’s list of blocked victims. The Nets young big man got AD twice on Wednesday evening. This list is getting pretty impressive. LeBron, Giannis, Blake Griffin, and now AD. The second-year big man takes it all in stride and tries not to get too high or too low. For him, they are just basketball plays. But he knows they give his teammates a little extra motivation.
Following the game, Allen talked about his blocks.
4. Anthony Davis is frustrated
The Pelicans all NBA big man began the season by telling ESPN’s Rachel Nichols he believes he is the best player in the league. A debatable claim, but one he has the skills and talent to back up. He finished Wednesday night’s game with 34 points, 26 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks. An impressive stat line, but it wasn’t enough. Davis also made headlines this season by saying he has to play perfectly in order for this team to win.
The situation in New Orleans is not good right now. The Pelicans are a bad basketball team and their best player is extremely frustrated and unhappy. Davis is under contract for one more season after this one, and he will become an unrestricted free agent. Rumors and sources have him going to the Lakers to play with LeBron as Davis is now a client of Klutch Sports and Rich Paul. The latest rumor is that the Warriors are also interested in trading for Davis.
All signs point to Davis leaving New Orleans either via trade or when his contract expires, either way, it’s all starting to wear on him. You could see it in his postgame comments where he was asked about his frustration level with the season and then directly about his desire to stay in New Orleans.
5. The Pelicans as a team and franchise
They are 17-22, 14th in the conference and rank 26th in defensive rating. It’s true they’ve had some injuries, notably to Nikola Mirotic and Elfrid Payton. But, this is a team with Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, and Julius Randle. They should be better than where they are. The aforementioned Anthony Davis “situation” is looming over their collective heads, but more broadly, something just seems off with this squad.
This is a franchise that is at or near the bottom of the league in home attendance and is not a free agent destination. The ownership situation is still tenuous since Tom Benson’s death and what is the long-term viability of New Orleans’ ability to support an NBA franchise? The league is certainly committed to staying there but if they lose Davis via free agency at the end of next season and get nothing in return, things will get ugly.