Brooklyn Nets have no answer for Anthony Davis in double overtime defeat
Anthony Davis has quietly put together one of the best seasons of his short career. It doesn’t feel like all that long ago when collective NBA world had deemed Davis as the heir apparent to LeBron James’ throne.
The All-Star forward and DeMarcus Cousins were finally leading the New Orleans Pelicans in the right direction this year, then everything changed. Cousins went down with a ruptured left Achilles tendon and the leagues most threatening one-two punch was divided.
Davis was left with a handful of serviceable starters and and a rapidly aging Rajon Rondo. To combat their frontcourt woes, the Pelicans dealt for stretch four Nikola Mirotic to fill the void left by Cousins.
New Orleans 1-5 record since the loss of Boogie Cousins exposed just how much they had relied on his diverse skillset his season, but it also opened up a window of opportunity for Davis to reassert his name in the yearly MVP discussion.
With a weak team on the schedule and chance to remain in the playoff hunt, Anthony Davis took full advantage of the Brooklyn Nets’ less imposing and experienced big men. Davis finished with 44 points and 17 rebounds in the 138-128 double overtime victory and reminded everyone why The Brow was once revered as a lock for a future MVP Award ceremony.
Rajon Rondo turned back the hands of time for a classic triple-double reminiscent of his days in Beantown. The crafty point guard scored 25 points, secured 10 boards and dropped 12 dimes as he played an integral role in leading the Pelicans past the Nets.
The Pelicans blew a 28-point third quarter lead to Brooklyn, but they found a way to escape an embarrassing loss. While the fourth quarter and first overtime were neck and neck affairs, the same could not be said for the final frame of the contest.
Davis and Rondo dominated the Nets from end to end. However, newcomer Mirotic chipped in 21 points and 16 boards of his own while mainstay Jrue Holiday racked up 22 points to aid the Pelicans cause.
Behind Allen Crabbe’s 28 points on a career high eight 3-pointers, the Nets hung in the game to make it a competitive and entraining matchup. Brooklyn had no business keeping up with New Orleans, but when you’re playing as poorly as the Pelicans it can give even the worst of teams a chance to win a game.
Point guard play for the Nets looked spectacular, though that had more to do with the poor perimeter defense of New Orleans’ guards than it did the efforts of Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell. Still, Dinwiddie dropped 24 points and D’Angelo Russell chipped in 21 and nine assists off the bench in an all around good outing for their two lead guards.
Even without Cousins in the lineup, New Orleans shouldn’t be scrambling around against the league’s lottery teams like they have. Yet, here they are again narrowly edging out a yearly candidate for worst team in the NBA.
Although Pelicans have a lot of season left to play, they don’t have a lot of room for error. Their roster is talented enough to hold on to the eight seed in the Western Conference, the question is whether or not they can get the job done with the lineups they’re trodding out.
They may not want to admit it, but starting Rondo over Mike James isn’t the right way to save their season. You can admire Rondo for his career accomplishments all you want, that won’t change the fact that he’s a terrible shooter and a virtual non-factor on defense.
His style of play worked for the Boston Celtics in the mid 2000’s, but it’s time for a wakeup call. The NBA has evolved into a shooters league, and if you can’t keep up you’ll be left behind. Mike James is no sharpshooter himself, but his size and versatility alone make him a much more desirable than the assist hunting Rajon Rondo.
Rondo may have a place in the NBA where he would fit quite nicely. However, New Orleans just isn’t that destination. He’s not a leader and he won’t roll over and accept a bench role with grace and professionalism. Rondo’s career isn’t over, but it should be for the Pelican’s organization.