ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Tonight in Phoenix, the Suns host the New Orleans Pelicans in something they’re calling #TBTSuns, a nod to Throwback Thursday. Tickets are available for $8, which is what they cost back when Suns coach Jeff Hornacek was playing for the Suns. And to celebrate the late-’80s/early-’90s vibe, the Suns dropped an NBA Jam-inspired lineup introduction video…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Tonight in New Orleans, for their game against the Boston Celtics, the New Orleans Pelicans will celebrate ’80s Night. I’m not sure how this will be manifested during the game — slower tempo? worse statistical analysis? — but they Pelicans are getting people fired up for ’80s Night with this video showing some of the players, including Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis, getting their ’80s on to the smooth sounds of Technotronic’s “Pump Up The Jam”…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We obviously love mascots here at the All Ball blog, but I’m not sure the Pelicans’ King Cake Baby qualifies as a mascot. I mean, it’s obviously inhuman and constructed of non-organic matter, which would seem to mark it as a mascot. But at the same time, the Pelicans have a Pelican as their mascot, so I guess the King Cake Baby is just some kind of secondary, seasonal thing they bring out for a few weeks year during Mardi Gras, when people bake miniature plastic babies into cakes as a means of finding good luck.
Whatever the Pelicans’ gigantic King Cake Baby mascot thingy is, it is undeniably creepy and terrifying to see a huge, wide-eyed, wild-eyed zombie baby walking around, particularly in your office. There’s one scene in this video where an unsuspecting gentleman exits the office kitchenette and is scared by King Cake Baby, and I think that right there would have been it for me. Do you, King Cake Baby mascot. Just stay away from me, King Cake Baby.
Anthony Davis has done it all for the Pelicans in this very impressive breakout season … well, almost everything, until Friday night. Scoring, rebounds, blocked shots, steals, assists? The only thing missing from his resume in 2014-15 was a buzzer-beater, and that was signed, sealed and delivered in the nick of time to bail out the Pelicans and, more importantly, keep the Thunder at bay in the race for one of the final playoff spots in the West.
Yes, it was only fitting that his first buzzer-beater happened in a big moment and a big game. The Pelicans came to OKC with a one-game lead over the Thunder for ninth place, and this was designated, at least by folks in OKC, as the game in which the Thunder would make their move in the standings. They used much of the last two months digging out of a tough start this season caused mainly by injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. With the season nearly two-thirds over, time is of the essence, not only for OKC but New Orleans, since both are sitting on the playoff bubble.
Something had to give … and did with no time left on the clock.
Davis isn’t the first player you’d choose to shoot the ball from 3-point range. Actually, what was he doing so far away from the basket, with the score tied? A more reasonable spot for Davis would be near the basket for a tip-in off the inbounds pass. Oh, well. He was checked closely by Durant, but wiggled free and took the pass from Tyreke Evans with 1.2 seconds left. Davis was moving to his left from the top of the key, then leaped in the air, hanging about a split-second longer than Durant. He double-clutched just to make sure and created just enough air space to release a shot beyond the reach of Durant. Not many big man are athletic enough to pull off the mid-air gymnastics that Davis did. The game-winner was Davis’ first made 3-pointer since March of last season and only his third career make in 24 tries. You know what’ll happen this March? Davis turns 22.
The Pelicans nearly choked this game away. Evans missed a pair of free throws on New Orleans’ next to last possession that could’ve iced the game. And then, up three points, Quincy Pondexter ran out to guard Westbrook beyond the three-point stripe, which is really a defensive sin. Pondexter couldn’t stop his momentum and made contact with Westbrook, who released the shot quickly, on the way down. Westbrook had a monster night with a career-high 48 points with 9 rebounds and 11 assists (after scoring 45 points against these same Pelicans his previous game), and calmly hit all three free throws to tie the game with 1.2 ticks left.
Davis finished with 41 points and 10 rebounds in the 116-113 win and, as we already mentioned, the Pelicans are in a fight with OKC and the Suns for the eighth spot, which Phoenix is clinging to at the moment. OKC and the Pelicans met two nights earlier in New Orleans and Westbrook torched the home team in the win. And so: Westbrook scored a combined 93 points in back-to-back games against the Pelicans and OKC only managed a split. The Pelicans are on their best roll of the season, losing only twice since Jan. 19. In their next 12 games, they’ll only see teams with winning records three times. With a soft schedule, it’s the best time for New Orleans to make a strong move. The Pelicans also now hold a 3-1 head-to-head tiebreaker over the Thunder, who have have lost five of their last eight and no doubt hear the clock ticking.
Davis was mobbed by his teammates, with two potential goats, Evans and Pondexter, leading the charge. Seriously, had that shot missed, it would’ve been a long flight out of OKC for two players who only needed to do the right thing to avoid the last second drama.
This shot wasn’t exactly heavy on theatrics, but it did involve Davis, and it was a rare three-pointer from him, and the game carried a fair amount of importance for February. Therefore, the Brow Beater was better than most. We’ll give it four Horrys.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New Orleans Pelicans have an exciting young team, lead by All-Star starter Anthony Davis, who is just 21 years old. And to make sure the people of New Orleans keep coming out to see them play, the Pelicans have introduced a new ticket plan: For $24, you can get tickets to any three games. Heckuva deal, for sure.
What’s really interesting is how the Pelicans are promoting this deal. We love local ads here at All Ball, and the Pelicans have chosen to recreate an old local ad for this new local ad. According to a press release from the Pelicans…
The spot included Anderson as the lead role, re-creating Frank Trapani’s persona in the original television spot for his store, Frankie & Johnny’s Furniture. Trapani, who stood just 5’ tall compared to Anderson’s 6’10 frame, passed away in July of 2012. Pelicans center Omer Asik and guard Tyreke Evans also make appearances in the series of spots.
Davis, donning a Stetson-looking hat and holding a plastic Mardi Gras cigar, reprised “The Special Man” role originally performed by Lester Love, Sr., a salesman at Frankie & Johnny’s who passed away in 2001.
“It was a lot of fun recreating the ‘Special Man’ commercial and I hope the employees and owners of the store would enjoy us reprising their roles,” said Davis. “At first when I saw it, I thought it was funny, but didn’t really get it. Some of the Pelicans staff who are from here were explaining to us how popular it was and it was fun to see their reactions as we were filming. We hope the fans enjoy it – it was fun for us to do.”
Here’s the Pelicans ad, starring Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We know Will Ferrell is an NBA fan — see the video above from last year where I talked basketball with Ferrell and his Anchorman 2 co-stars. And we’ve also seen him through the years at NBA games in cities where he’s filming movies.
So it wasn’t a surprise that Ferrell turned up at last night’s Lakers/Pelicans game in New Orleans, where he’s in town with co-star Mark Wahlbergfilming the movie Daddy’s Home. But what was a surprise was at halftime, when Ferrell came onto the court and filmed a scene where he pegs a cheerleader in the face with a basketball and then gets carried off the floor by fake security guards. IN THE FAAAACE…
Will Ferrell being led out of the Smoothie King Center by security at halftime of the Pelicans/Lakers game. pic.twitter.com/AaOTEL8716
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.
To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. Today we check in with one of the world’s great chefs, Mario Batali. Mario owns restaurants around the globe, has written nearly a dozen cookbooks (his latest is America — Farm to Table) and is a co-host of “The Chew.” All Ball readers already knew Mario was an NBA fan, so it’s worth taking a moment to exchange emails with him about the upcoming NBA Christmas Day slate…
ME:Last year you told us you root for both the Knicks and the Nets. How do you feel about the state of the two franchises right now?
MARIO: Not ideal, but I am still a supporter.
ME: You told us you take your sons on an NBA road trip each year. Where have you yet to see a game that you’d like to visit?
MARIO: This year for Leo, it will be the Pelicans, because we love New Orleans.
ME: All-Star Weekend in New York City is a few months away. Any don’t-miss stops you have for people visiting town?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We all know that Blake Griffin is one of the toughest players in the NBA to stop — his size, speed, and ability to either knock down outside shots or take the ball to the basket present a host of problems for defenders. We’ve seen opponents try and get physical with Blake, usually to no avail. But over the weekend, New Orleans guard Austin Rivers got tangled with Blake on a pick-and-roll and ended up “pantsing” Blake. Hey, that’s one way to stop him.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — During this weekend’s Pelicans/Nuggets game, Denver center JaVale McGee chased after a loose ball and dove into the stands trying to save the ball. He did make the save, but unfortunately tipped it directly to the Pelicans.
But that’s not why we’re here. We are here to observe what happened in the aftermath of JaVale going into the stands. Take a guess what happens when he lands in the stands. Does he…
A) Take a sip of a fan’s soda
B) Sign an autograph
C) Run back down the floor and block a shot
D) Land in an empty seat next to an older woman, smoothly put his arm around that woman, lean over and give her a kiss on the cheek, and then sprint back down the floor in time to defend his man
If you chose D, I’d guess you’re a fan of Shaqtin’ A Fool…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New Orleans Pelicans convincingly won their season opener at home last night, beating the Orlando Magic, 101-84. And to commemorate the start of a new season, the Pelicans created a video where the players and coach Monty Williams messed around in a kitchen and, um, basically showed why they’re basketball players, not actors.