Even megastars need a hug now and then.
That’s what Pelicans coach Monty Williams was giving Anthony Davis — figuratively if not literally — on Friday.
While scoring 29 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in Thursday’s playoff game against Golden State, Davis also missed a free throw that would have given the Pels a four-point lead with 9.6 seconds left in regulation and an eight-footer that would have tied it with six seconds left in overtime.
“First off, I told him that we would not be in this position if his shoulders weren’t as broad as they are,” Williams said following the team practice at their Metairie facility. “All the stuff he’s done to get us here is part of his growth, and it’s not going to be the last time for him to go through something like this.
“I think it’s going to be a benchmark or reference point for him in the future. None of us want to feel like this again, but he and I know that we both have different pressure than anybody else, so we have different hurt, also.”
Williams added that he and Davis were “whining last night and woke up this morning whining some more,” before, “We woke up this morning and the Lord said ‘Go to work. Do your job and get over yourself.’ That’s the same thing I told him, but in a better way.”
Davis was not made available to the media on Friday.
Golden State guard Stephen Curry said he’d watched the tape of his game-tying 3-pointer “about eight or 10 times,” Friday — and that was before the team had film study following practice.
Curry said he didn’t realize that Davis was bearing down on him as he got the shot off and he probably should have drawn a foul for being knocked over.
“I was so much concentrating on making the shot I was interested in seeing how it all unfolded,” Curry said. “That’s why I didn’t know how I wound up on the ground.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been tackled that hard.”
Curry got the chance to make the shot after Marreese Speights rebounded Curry’s missed shot from seconds earlier and managed to get the ball back to Curry without being fouled by either Davis or Tyreke Evans, the players closest to him.
Williams repeated Friday that players were told to foul before any of the Golden State players could shoot, including Curry on the inbounds pass that preceded his two shots.
“I don’t think it was disregard or any of that stuff,” he said. “We couldn’t grab him the way we wanted to get the foul.
“It shouldn’t have come down to that, but stuff happens.”
Now he tells us
When their teams are hopelessly behind, coaches usually exhort their players to keep pushing and that whatever the result, good can come from it.
With a 2-0 series lead, Golden State could have surrendered Thursday, but unexpectedly found itself back in the game, according to Curry.
“I don’t know what was going on in everybody else’s mind, but in mine, whether we won or lost, I wanted us to get some momentum going forward,” he said. “Those first six minutes of the fourth quarter, we just wanted to find something we could rely on going into Game Four whether it was 2-1 or 3-0.
“Obviously once we got in striking distance, it changed. But for us, just having a good fourth quarter after the way we played the first three quarters was the most important thing.”
Golden State’s comeback was only the third in league playoff history when a team had trailed by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter.
Pelicans starting center Omer Asik scored only point on Thursday and had just six rebounds. He did not play after the 5:19 mark of the third quarter.
Williams acknowledged Friday that in a game where Golden State’s 10 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter was the key statistic, having Ryan Anderson in the game instead of Asik sacrificed a rebounding edge for the Pels.
At the same time, Anderson was scoring 26 points, his most since a Dec. 12 game against Cleveland.
“Ryan had the hot hand,” Williams said. “Not having Omer in the game may have hurt us, but in that situation you’re going to go with the player with the hot hand.”
So will Anderson get the start Saturday.
“We’re not talking about that right now,” was Williams’ response.