Mar 6, 201809:59 AM
Full Sport Press
'The games we play in New Orleans and beyond'
Pelicans’ Playoff Push
Setting up for a wild finish
If you’ve read my words I like to think that you know a little about me. I’m not the guy that goes back on his words or pretends I was there all along. I’m not even a sports addict that would try to think of such a tale. So, believe me, after Demarcus Cousin went down with an injured Achilles on January 26 I was sure the season was over and I freely admit that I had no idea the Pelicans would be in the playoff hunt right now.
Yet here they are. Things are getting interesting at the Smoothie King Center.
Not that it has been a murderer’s row of opponents in the Pelicans eight-game win streak but eight wins is eight wins and the Pelicans have surged into fourth place in a tightly bunched Western Conference. The Pelicans are a half-game out of third place but only two games out of ninth place. That’s tight.
In this topsy-turvy world, the Pelicans have a two-game road trip out west against teams they used to look up at in the standings, but now it’s the Pelicans in the playoff race and the Clippers (tonight) and Kings (Wednesday night) are the ones desperate for wins.
The Pelicans will return to the Smoothie King Center to take on John Wall’s Washington Bullets on Friday and the Utah Jazz, who unbelievably don’t have a Kentucky Wildcat on their roster, on Sunday.
Speaking of everyone’s favorite Kentucky Wildcat, with the win streak Anthony Davis seems to have shaken the cobwebs off of the NBA pundits’ collective mind by reminding everyone why he was the former number one pick.
Davis’ inside and outside game has been dazzling as the still young (he’s only 24 years old) superstar from Chicago has put up 37.2 points and 14.7 rebounds during the win streak. During that span, Davis has blocked 22 shots as well.
It’s not just Davis that has gone next level. Win streaks are about team and Jrue Holiday has been absolutely clutch recently and seems to be getting hotter with each game. Holiday hit 31-of-50 shots over the last three games averaging 25 points per contest.
So, let’s put the stories about poor crowds at the Smoothie King Center to rest and greet the Pelicans this weekend, hopefully riding a 10-game winning streak. This is a fun team to watch and you need a little joy in your life, right?
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every tough decision should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
“Beer” Pairing: New Orleans Original Daiquiri “190 Octane”
Playlist Recommendation: R.E.M. – “Superman”
Around the Way
It’s weird to say a game is “do-or-die” before conference play kicks off but the Tulane Green Wave (6-5) were about as close to it as a team could get on Sunday after losing the first two games of the series to Cal State Fullerton.
Being swept on back-to-back weekends (they were swept previously by Ole Miss) would have left the team asking a lot of questions about themselves heading into a gauntlet of tough games. Especially if they lost to a team that suspended seven of their players for having too much fun on Bourbon Street the previous night.
Thankfully, Tulane’s Keagan Gillies got the call and the sophomore put in the best Green Wave pitching performance of the still-young year.
Gillies would go seven innings, striking out five and only giving up one earned run in a critical win for the Green Wave.
The game was knotted at zeroes in the fourth when Cal State Fullerton’s Daniel Cope homered to open up the scoring. Unfortunately for the Titans, Gillies would have no more of it and put the team to sleep by retiring the next 12 batters in order.
The Green Wave offense woke up in the bottom of the fourth putting together five hits and were aided by two Titan errors and the Wave jumped out to a 6-1 lead and never looked back. Kody Hoese would go 3-for-4 on the day. Grant Matthews finished off a 4-for-8 weekend and freshman David Bedgood picked up three RBI’s on the weekend.
Gillies was the star of the day in what is his second strong performance in a row. He throws with an edge to him and could develop into the team’s long-term number one. That’s down the road, though. Now, the Green Wave needs to get a solid weekend series win which they should be favored to get this upcoming weekend as they host the Purdue Boilermakers (8-2), a team picked to finish 11th in the 13-team Big 10 by PerfectGame.org.
Yes, that previous sentence is correct. It really does read 11th in the 13-team Big 10. Bizarre, I know.
But before that, Tulane has two tough ones mid-week, travelling to Lakefront to take on the UNO Privateers (5-7) on Tuesday and hosting Southeastern Louisiana (7-5) on Wednesday.