NEW ORLEANS — Sometimes we get so caught up in the win now mentality, in the concept of now or never, that we lose sight of another concept altogether.
Patience, a virtue that has gone by the wayside, left behind in a universe of Twitter posts, Facebook walls and website rivers.
Saturday night, with a 105-95 win over the two-time defending NBA champion Heat, the Pelicans reminded us all once again that maybe patience is the right concept after all.
“We’re growing. We’re clicking,” New Orleans’ sudden superstar Anthony Davis said. “As long as we just try to keep the momentum going toward the end of the season, a couple more games left and we’ve got to finish out strong.”
They are, in fact, growing.
In the past three weeks, they’ve been in every game. In a stretch in which they’ve gone 5-3, the three losses all were close, all were blown fourth-quarter leads away from being wins.
Some, including me, have wondered if Monty Williams was the right coach for this team at this time.
Maybe that’s not the right question.
Because what we’re learning once again is that maybe in the NBA, it’s not about the coaching. It’s about the players.
And the Pelicans appear to have the horses to eventually run the postseason race.
With Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith all missing this stretch, and with Eric Gordon sitting out Saturday night, New Orleans is showing that the young players it has can play with anyone.
Austin Rivers is a long way from his rough rookie season. Alexis Ajinca is showing that, with time, his European game can transition to the NBA. Al-Farouq Aminu is proving that he can be as good a defender as Williams needs.
It’s not about plays being drawn up or defenses being conceived; it’s about who is on the floor and their willingness to learn together and play together.
The Pelicans have undoubtedly shown that.
More to the point, however, is that Davis is growing. In just his second year in the NBA, he has become a star. This season, with all the injuries, the team has become his and he is taking over games now.
He has scored at least 28 points in eight straight games and at least 30 in four consecutive. He has three straight 30-plus point, 10-plus rebound games. Teams are paying attention to him and he’s still owning them.
If you don’t see it just yet, others do, including all-everything player LeBron James.
“He’s spectacular,” James said. “He’s getting better every single day., When you know you’re a star and your team looks at you as a leader, as a star, you make plays and that’s what he’s doing.”
So maybe we jumped the gun too quickly on what we expected. What the franchise had hoped for and what everyone is seeing is a natural – key word being natural – progression.
Success doesn’t generally come over night.
It’s not too late for this microwave society to go back to an oven-based one.