With the Oklahoma City Thunder blowing out the Minnesota Timberwolves from the start on Wednesday night, the New Orleans Pelicans were under pressure to beat the red-hot San Antonio Spurs to snare the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. And wouldn’t you know it, the Pelicans pulled off the upset by beating the Spurs, 108-103.
New Orleans jumped out to a 23-point first-half lead, but San Antonio naturally made a push to get back in the game. The pressure mounted on the Pelicans as the Spurs made it just a four-point game early in the fourth quarter, but New Orleans answered the call and came away with the stunning victory.
Anthony Davis had 31 points and 13 rebounds in the win, and now Davis and his Pelicans have the pleasure of facing the top-seeded Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. The Warriors will be the heavy favorite, but it should be fun to see what Davis has in store for his first postseason appearance.
On the other side of the coin, the Pelicans’ victory ends the Thunder’s disappointing season. Russell Westbrook scored 37 points in the Thunder’s 138-113 victory over the Timberwolves, but it meant nothing. Westbrook’s superhuman season that resulted in his first scoring title wasn’t enough to get Oklahoma City into the playoffs, as yet another Thunder season has been derailed by injuries to key players.
Oklahoma City got into a hole early in the year when both Westbrook and Kevin Durant were out, and it proved to be too big a hole to dig out of with Durant dealing with his foot issue all year and Serge Ibaka going down with a serious injury of his own.