Anthony Davis, we are told, wants the hell out of New Orleans. No trade was forthcoming, and Davis dutifully reported for duty at the Smoothie King Center. He played the first half, then retired; apparently he was feeling some serious shoulder pain, and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Turns out, though, that the Pelicans were just as good with Davis on the bench. Maybe better. Up three at the half, the Angry Birds outscored OKC 35-26 in the third quarter to go up twelve. The Thunder managed to crawl their way to within three, but that was as close as they were going to get; the Pelicans won this one going away, 131-122, and finished off the season series 2-2.
The mysterious plus/minus factor was generous to the Pels: +19 for Jrue Holiday (31 points), +19 for Julius Randle (31 points and 11 rebounds), and +19 for Darius Miller (8 well-timed points). Both teams hit 50 shots from the floor, though New Orleans needed only 92 tries; the Thunder took 106. (And if you’re as puzzled as I am about plus/minus, consider that Russell Westbrook collected yet another triple-double, this one 44-14-11, and finished -15. Paul George had a rough night, if you can call 28 points a rough night; he went 11-29, with 3-17 from that place they call downtown. Most of OKC’s treys failed, and failed miserably: 10-44 is 23 percent, which is reminiscent of the Bad Old Days at the start of the season. But let us not dwell on this: let us congratulate proud papa Dennis Schröder, and let us send a get-well card to Jerami Grant, both of whom were sorely missed tonight. And while we’re at it, let’s say hello to Markieff Morris, traded last week to New Orleans, promptly waived, and reportedly scooped up by OKC, and to Richard Solomon and Scotty Hopson, who have been playing for the Thunder’s G League affiliate across town and who signed 10-day contracts for the parent organization.
And that’s it until a week from tomorrow, when all this All-Star stuff goes back into storage and the serious work begins anew.