Early on, it looked like it was going to be One Of Those Nights. Anthony Davis had piled up 21 points by halftime, including a 7-0 run all by his lonesome. Omer Asik presented the usual impenetrable wall. And Tyreke Evans was, well, Tyreke Evans. In the third quarter, the Pelicans had worked their way to a nine-point lead, and the crowd at the ‘Peake were grateful it wasn’t nineteen. Gradually the Thunder got some defense working, and went up five at end of three. Early in the fourth, Anthony Morrow went down, and Russell Westbrook, antsy on the bench, came back a couple minutes before Scott Brooks had planned. But just inside the four-minute mark, though, New Orleans regained the lead, and Serge Ibaka still hadn’t figured out how to defend against Davis; going into the last minute, the Pelicans were up two and Davis was up to 38 points. Lots of maneuvering in those sixty seconds, but no actual Thunder offense, and the Beak Boys, who hadn’t won a game in OKC since early 2010, flew away with a 101-99 win.
Along with those 38 points, Davis reeled in 12 rebounds, as many as Asik; Jrue Holiday collected 11 points and delivered 15 assists, one fewer than the entire Thunder team. (The Pelicans served up 33 assists in all, while coughing up only 12 turnovers.) Ryan Anderson led the New Orleans bench with 14 points. But this may be the Telltale Statistic: Davis and Asik each blocked three shots. Ibaka had no swats at all.
Westbrook, of course, looked like Westbrook: 29 points, eight assists, five boards. But his shooting mojo didn’t accompany him onto the floor in that fourth quarter, and probably wasn’t even within screaming distance on that final brick. Perry Jones, starting in favor of the walking-wounded Kevin Durant, came up with 12 points; Reggie Jackson, having remembered how to shoot, was good for 19. And Steven Adams posted yet another double-double, 12 points and 10 boards. Imagine how he’ll do when he can hit more than half his free throws.
The Trail Blazers, who lead the Northwest by several dozen games, will be here Tuesday. They’ve won their last five and have no desire to drop one on a sub-.500 squad.