Rack this up there with Big Ben, Game Seven against the Spurs and any other dark days in New Orleans sports history you can think of.
For 47 minutes and 57 seconds the Pelicans were better on this night than the best team in basketball.
To be sure, even if they’d won, history would still be almost impossibly against them winning the series.
And chances were that Golden State would still close it out Tuesday back in sunny California.
But the Pels let Stephen Curry get off a second-chance 3-pointer (The folks in the TV truck said it looked like his foot was on the line and he may have also gone out of bounds, but the refs were interested in checking), and in overtime they had nothing left as the Warriors exerted themselves for a 123-119 victory that the hurt-your-eyes-red-clad Smoothie King Center crowd home in disbelief.
How soul-searing was this one?
In the shot clock era the Warriors were 0-356 when trailing by at least 20 points after three quarters.
So you would think with that kind of historic cushion the Pelicans should be able to hold off whatever charge visitors were bound to muster.
But they couldn’t.
And the lead dribbled away:
Leandro Barbosa on a jumper after Anthony Davis missed on an alley-oop dunk attempt. 89-73. 11:17 left.
Curry with two free throws (he was 13-14 from the line) after Klay Thompson blocked a Tyreke Evans layup attempt. 101-88. 5:33 left.
Harrison Barnes with a putback dunk after a missed 3-pointer by Curry. 103-95. 3:35 left.
Draymond Green with a putback layup after another missed 3-pointer by Curry. 105-101. 1:40 left.
Curry with a made 3-pointer, after missing nine of his last 11, 107-105. 11.8 seconds left.
Until finally Davis missed the first of two free throws with 9.6 seconds left when making both would have made it two-possession lead.
You know what happened next.
“We were desperate,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said. “I’m as stunned as everybody else.
“It’s a miracle we had another chance. We spent the last five minutes being a great defensive team.”
And yes, there were chances catch up in the closing seconds of OT. Davis will long be replaying why he couldn’t get more lift against Andrew Bogut on that last shot.
Maybe playing 46 of 53 minutes on a night when Pels Coach Monty Williams wanted to give him more rest explains that a little.
And why Eric Gordon was taking a 3-pointer with the Pels down by 1 after going 1-7 on his previous eight shots is a mystery.
And don’t even ask about why there was no fouling in the closing seconds of regulation instead of letting Curry get off 3s.
“That wasn’t the game plan,” Pels Coach Monty Williams curtly said.
So now the teams come back to the SKC on Saturday for Game Four.
Hard to say what the Pels have left in the tank. They’ll say the right things Friday and play hard on Saturday, but this was their golden opportunity to at least avoid the swep.
Golden State, meanwhile, can wrap it up and take a nice, long rest while Memphis and Portland slog through the rest of their series.
But while some will be liberally using the word “choke” today, don’t be too harsh on the home team.
Davis had 29 points and 15 boards. Ryan Anderson so out of out in Oakland that he didn’t play in the second half of Game Two, scored 26 points, 23 of them from inside the arc.
And there were others.
They provided a month’s worth of highlight moments displayed outstanding teamwork and did everything but win the game.
And, in the end, that’s what matters.
“It’s going to be very tough to look at the film tomorrow,” Davis said. “But that’s part of being a professional.
“You’ve got to take the good along with the bad.”
Unfortunatle, in a city that’s seen far more bad than good when it comes to sports, we’re used to it.