Feb 21, 201708:00 AM
Full Sport Press
'The games we play in New Orleans and beyond'
The Pelicans chase the NBA playoffs
all photos by the associated press
That explosion you heard Sunday night wasn’t one of the mysterious booms over Uptown. It was my Kentucky Wildcat-drenched mind reading about the trade that brought the mercurial DeMarcus Cousins onto the New Orleans Pelicans front line along with Anthony Davis in a shocking move that brings playoff talk back to the Crescent City.
They usually don’t turn out this way, right? Big trades are usually reserved for the big market teams while mid-market teams like New Orleans usually build through drafts and adding pieces. Yet, it’s no added piece when the newcomer is considered by many to be the best center in the NBA. This is a shot across the NBA’s bow, letting the league know that New Orleans is not quietly coasting into another off-season but are now going “all in” this season.
And next season. This isn’t a one-year rental as the Pelicans have Cousins signed for the 2018 season as well. The days of the one-man Unibrow show are coming to an end, folks. After stumbling into the All-Star break sporting a losing record at 23-34, the Pels leave the league’s showcase weekend sporting the best one-two punch in the NBA. Who knew being 11 games under .500 with 25 games to go could be so much fun?
Those smiles are just a natural after-effect of having Davis averaging 27.7 points and 11.9 rebounds a game and he’s no longer your leading scorer. Cousins is scoring 27.8 points per game and hauling in 10.6 rebounds. Gold star to the first New Orleans fast food restaurant to feature a “Double Double” meal.
While everyone is raving about the Pelicans getting the better end of the trade with the Sacramento Kings, it did not come without cost. The Pelicans bid farewell to burgeoning fan favorite Buddy Hield in a rookie season that shows promise but may not have the immediate impact the Pelicans needed. Along with Hield, the Pelicans sent Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and future draft picks out west for the three-time NBA All-Star and veteran small forward Omri Casspi. Now, if the Pelicans can go grab Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker from the Phoenix Suns and Rex Chapman out of the carbon freezing chamber, Fat Harry’s can officially rename itself South Lexington as the UK Watch parties and Big Blue Nation will never have a reason to leave.
What a show it could be. The Pelican faithful are buzzing with the possibilities of having these two superstars playing together. While it’s easy to picture a dominant frontcourt posting up under the basket, in this era of small ball the truly tantalizing aspect is having these two “bigs” stretching the defense on the edge and even into the backcourt. These two guys have that amazing ability to make you forget that they’re a center and power forward. In addition to having the best big men in the league, the trade pulls Jrue Holiday back into prime focus as the team’s outside scoring threat and the timing is perfect as Holiday has heated up and is averaging 20.4 points a game in the last 10.
The Pelicans have 25 games to fight their way into the eighth-seed in the Western conference. The Pels are now in a dogfight with the Nuggets (who lead New Orleans by 2.5 games), Kings, Trailblazers, Mavericks and Timberwolves (oh my!). Looking ahead, this new version of the Pelicans will take flight against some stiff competition this week as the Pelicans will take on the Houston Rockets (40-18) on Thursday and the Oklahoma City Thunder (32-25) on Sunday.
Head-to-head matchups are always critical at this point in the season for teams that are scrapping their way into the postseason. The Pelicans still have three games to play against the Denver Nuggets, including an intriguing back-to-back matchup entering the last week of the season. On top of that, the Pelicans finish the season in Portland in what could be tantamount to an elimination game. But, see, now I’m just getting excited and looking too far ahead into the future with a smile on my face.
Let’s Boogie, New Orleans.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Marz Community Brewing Company’s “Lumpen Boogie” Pale Wheat Ale
Playlist Recommendation: The Jacksons — “Blame It On The Boogie”
Around The Way
The UNO Privateers kicked its season off with an undefeated run through their MLB Urban Youth Invitational. UNO would sandwich an 8-5 victory over Illinois-Chicago between a pair of shutouts. Shawn Semple struck out ten batters over six innings in a 5-0 victory over Southern. Bryan Warzek worked six scoreless innings in a win over Prairie A&M.
UNO gets a chance to make a big statement this Tuesday when the No. 5 LSU Tigers visit Maestri Field for a 6:30 p.m. contest.
The Tulane Green Wave had a less than impressive start to the season after an opening weekend that saw the club go 1-2. Tulane got an impressive start from Corey Merrill in the season opener, as the senior pitcher went seven innings for the victory. Grant Witherspoon went yard in his first at bat of the season but the Green Wave offense went silent over the weekend, losing to Air Force 3-2 on Saturday and losing to Army 7-4 on Sunday.
The Green Wave will try to rebound tonight in Hammond as they take on Southeastern Louisiana at 6 p.m.