Story Christopher Taylor, sophomore at St. John the Baptist Parish’s STEM Magnet High School Program. Photos by mentor Rob Noelke of Loyola University.
On a blustery, Friday night contest the New Orleans Pelicans (24-31) took on the Minnesota Timberwolves (25-29). Both teams are under .500 on the season and both have dealt with lots of injuries and superstars wanting to be traded. Early on in the Timberwolves’ 2018-2019 season, Jimmy Butler requested a trade and would be traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The hometown Pelicans are now in the same situation as star forward Anthony Davis has recently requested a trade from the team. After spending seven years with the organization, Davis feels that he has better chance of winning with another team.
This Friday night contest was Davis’ first game back since requesting the trade. The fans would let Davis have it, booing him during the introduction of the players. The fans showed some mixed emotions as they would continue to boo Davis anytime he had the ball in his hands, but would cheer as he scored the team’s first six points, until Davis showed why he was so loved by the city, missing only one shot in his first four shots taken, using the boos from the fans as momentum. The boos would quickly turn into shouts of “AD, AD, AD” as Davis would be subbed out of the game for the first time, pouring in 10 points in his first 8 minutes of playing, helping cut down an early 10 point lead by the Timberwolves to 5.
With the request of a trade by AD, happening in the same week as the Saints were denied a spot in the Super Bowl, it was like pouring salt into an open wound. The atmosphere felt very morbid sitting in the Smoothie King Center early on in the first half, but late into the second quarter the Pels would go on a 24-6 run to take a 55-53 lead after going down by 18 early in the second quarter. With a big block by Davis and a three by guard Tim Frazier, the team looked to overcome their struggles and continue to fight for this much needed win. The Pels would close the half with another monstrous block by AD, with the score tied at 62, Davis with 24 points going into the half, and the fans on their feet cheering; the rest of the game looked to be very exciting.
The Pelicans came out firing in the second half, up 82-70 after some big buckets by forward Kenrich Williams. AD would put up 8 points in the third, bringing his total to 32 on the game. Going into the fourth, the Pelicans led 90-88. Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle would step up, hitting some key baskets to keep the lead the entire fourth quarter without AD having to play a single minute in the fourth quarter. With the Pelicans pulling off this 122–117 win over the Wolves, this game pushes them four games closer to a playoff spot. With AD now being healthy and Jrue Holiday continuing to play effectively (on the game a near double-double with 27 points and nine assists), this was a much needed win by the Pels. Big buckets from players like Kenrich Williams, who finished with 19 points, and Randle who continuously forced his way to the rim helped to hold the lead down the stretch.
Even with all the trade drama circulating in the Pelican’s locker room, the team didn’t let that affect their play. With this season probably being Davis’ last in a Pelicans’ jersey, there still is lots of excitement to see in the Smoothie King Center. With Holiday tossing up lobs and Davis catching them and throwing down thunderous dunks, the Pels are still a team full of thrills and are definitely a team to watch out for the rest of the season.