Milwaukee Bucks Point Guard Jrue Holiday reverses a layup against New Orleans Pelicans Center Willy Hernangomez on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher

After spending eight seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans along going through several organization concerns and family medical issues, Milwaukee Bucks Point Guard Jrue Holiday’s return to the Big Easy was a little bittersweet.  Without help from his teammates and NBA All-Stars; Giannis Antekounmpo and Khris Middleton, the Pelicans took advantage of the mismatch and won 116-112 in overtime.

“Well, what I see is that we’re growing, and early in the season, we were giving ourselves an opportunity, but we were falling short. Now we still have a ton of games left ahead of us, but I like what we’re doing,” said New Orleans Pelicans Head Basketball Coach Willie Green. “We’re starting to find our rhythm, starting to find what environments that we can play in down the stretch of games.”

The playmaking star for the last two Pelicans games has been New Orleans Point Guard Devonte’ Graham, who singlehandedly finished with the shot of the year Wednesday night, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-110 on his last second 61 foot buzzer beater followed by knocking down eight 3-point baskets against the 2021 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks Friday night. Graham notched a team-high 26 points, converting 8-of-12 from three-point range and sunk both clutch free-throws in overtime. He added four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

“I’m very comfortable, always. We play pretty easy,” expressed Graham about the team’s performance. “(We) get open shots, drive, kick, make the right plays.”

In the first quarter, New Orleans went on a 12-2 run, which gave them a 17-11 lead with 5:18 left to go in the frame. Later in
the quarter, Milwaukee went on a 14-2 run, which gave them a 28-21 lead at the end of the first frame.

To start the second quarter, the Pelicans went on a 19-9 run that gave New Orleans a 40-37 lead with 5:24 left to go before
halftime.  Milwaukee and New Orleans went back and forth to finish the half with a 52-49 Pelicans lead.

To start the second half, New Orleans went on a 12-3 run that extended their lead 64-52. Milwaukee’s Guard Grayson Allen  retaliated with three straight three point baskets and 9-0 run that cut the Pelicans’ lead to 64-61.  At the end of the period, the game was in dead heat with a 77-77 tie.

At the 10:30 mark of the fourth quarter, New Orleans went on a 10-2 run that gave them an 87-84 lead.  Holiday kept the Bucks in the game, knocking down a few crucial jumpers and finishing with 40 points and 5 assists at the end of the game.

Once Holiday missed the game winning shot at the buzzer beater, the Pelicans outpaced Milwaukee in overtime. With 43.5 seconds left in the first overtime, New Orleans went on a 4-0 run and did not give up another point in the game.

New Orleans Pelicans Forward Herb Jones drives to dunk the basketball against the Milwaukee Bucks defenders on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

All five of the Pelicans’ starters scored in double-figures; Devonte’ Graham (26), Jonas Valančiūnas (24) Brandon Ingram
(22), Herbert Jones (17) and Josh Hart (11) while New Orleans out-rebounded Milwaukee 57-44, which led to them outscoring the Bucks 16-7 in fast break points.

“It feels good just to be able to come here and put on a show and to play well with my former team, but even just more so just the city,” conveyed Holiday. “There’s always just a special place in my heart for New Orleans.”

The next game is on the road as the New Orleans Pelicans will play against the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday at 6pm.