There are times, like Thursday night’s 123-119 victory over Oklahoma City, when the Pelicans look like a playoff team.
And then there are times, as has been the case most of this season, when they don’t.
Chris Webber, sitting courtside Thursday as an analyst for TNT, has seen too much of the latter and not enough of the former.
Webber, the former five-time NBA All-Star, is one of three NBA players in the past 30 years to have recorded 50 points and 20 rebounds in a game. He dropped 51 points and 26 rebounds for Sacramento back in 2001.
One of the other guys to accomplish the feat, Pelicans all-star Anthony Davis, was in the Smoothie King Center as well on Thursday night, playing at home for the first time since his 59-point, 20-rebound outburst on Sunday against Detroit.
Before the game, Webber described Davis’ Sunday performance as “incredible.”
“But I feel sorry for my man because he is not going to make the playoffs,” Webber said in an interview with The Advocate.
And who could blame Webber for doubting the up-and-down Pelicans this season, especially after he saw the Pelicans follow up Sunday’s much-talked about performance by Davis with a subpar effort against the Wizards.
Webber seemed concerned that Davis’ career could be wasting away if the Pelicans don’t get the right pieces around the superstar forward.
“It’s sad to me that we have one of the best players in the world and haven’t put the team around him,” Webber said. “My father used to tell me that direction is more important than speed. A lot of people are going nowhere fast. That’s what’s happening here.”
Webber doubts the team has the chemistry and cohesiveness it needs to duplicate its run to the playoffs from last season.
He was frustrated on Sunday that the Pelicans couldn’t get Davis the ball down the stretch to get him a 60th point. And he was even more frustrated on Tuesday when Davis took just nine shots and followed up his record-setting Sunday perfomance with a sub-par Tuesday.
“It’s disappointing because I went through it as a player too when I was in Washington,” said Webber. “There’s no guarantee to win a championship, especially winning it on his own. He might have to jump ship and play with somebody else when he gets older to win one.”
Webber never won a title in his 15 seasons.
Time will tell on Davis, who is still just in his fourth season.
But Davis isn’t giving up on the season just yet.
Whi can blame him for still believing after the Pelicans hung on Thursday and beat a team that many consider a contender in the loaded West.The win stil leaves the Pelicans 5.5 games out of the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.
“I think we can do it,” Davis said after the victory. “We have enough talent in here that we can do so. Eric (Gordon) is coming back and guys are playing at a high level right now. Overall, I think we are getting better. Of course other teams have to lose, but we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”
The Pelicans have won three of their past four games now and continue in what has been a roller coaster of a season. Just as you get ready to write them off, they pull out a win like the one Thursday.
This win was big, but one good win doesn’t make the season. The Pels are still just 23-34 after beating an OKC team that some consider a serious contender in the West. It was the Pelicans’ first win in three tries this season against the Thunder, a team they edged out last season for the eighth spot.
But Durant and Westbrook battled injuries much of last season.
They were at full strength Thursday, scoring 32 and 44 points, respectively.
“This win give us a lot of confidence,” Davis said.
Even Webber had to be pleased with the way Davis and the Pelicans rebounded from Tuesday’s lackluster performance against the Wizards.
Davis wasted little time showing this was going to be the AD from Sunday and not the one from Tuesday. He took 12 shots in the first quarter, when he scored 16 of his team-high 30 points.
The Pelicans, in a pivotal game against a worthy opponent, once again showed signs of who they can sometimes be.
On Thursday night, the pieces fit, especially the ones coming off the bench. Ryan Anderson scored 26 and Jrue Holiday had 22.
Some nights, like Webber says, some of the pieces seem to be missing.
And then of course, there are other nights, when the pieces are simply broken in what has been an injury-filled season.
And yes, the injury bug bit again Thursday.
Before tip-off, Alvin Gentry announced that yet another starter would be out because of injury. This time it was Bryce-Dejean Jones, who sat out with a fractured wrist.
It was the 26th different starting lineup for the Pelicans this season.
Gentry says the injuries have made it hard to figure out where this team is.
After watching Tuesday’s loss and then Thursday’s win, this team has bene hard to figure out for all of us.