On Wednesday night, a third-quarter victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Play-In Tournament proudered why "Not on Herb" has become a popular form for the Pelicans and their fans.
Jakob Poeltl of San Antonio had the basketball in the paint. The 7-foot-1 center had scored on the Spurs' previous possession. This time, New Orleans forward Herb Jones blocked Poeltl's shot.
While trying to get the basket at Poeltl's hands, the center tried to pass. But Jones was intercepted and drew a foul.
Jones' second of the game was blocked by a rookie from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans after blocking a three-point goal from San Antonio guard Keldon Johnson.
Jones went with 12 points, five assists, and three assists while continuing the game.
After the game, Pelicans coach said, "I could tell from the time we had our first meeting prepping for this team. He's studying, he's in the gym, and he's doing everything he can to be prepared." He knew it would be a difficult match, and he met it head-first.
"I'm proud of that kid. He just put his head off."
In the NBA for the 2021-22 season, Jones had 130 steals and 60 blocked shots. This was the second time in a row, as the team surpassed Anthony Davis' 187 goals.
"I love that the fans took the 'Not on Herb' and continued with it," said the organizer. "I love it. My teammates say it so much, I try to keep it to a minimum because I hear it so much. But I love to hear the fans. It's just the way I play, and I feel like that's the style of New Orleans."
The Pelicans were "just trying to execute the game plan defensively" and only trying to keep the ball out of the middle while making it super-tough on them. I tried to remove the pocket passes. We know they're a large pocket-passing team. I just tried to make it super-tough on them defensively."
Green took into account Jones' focus, but the rookie said he wanted to see his NBA postseason debut different from any other game.
I didn't do anything outside my normal routine, he said. I took the same approach that I took any game, so I wouldn't say it was a higher level. I try to stay locked in as long as I can each night.
The Pelicans and Spurs won the Play-In Tournament after finishing ninth and 10-fold in the NBA's Western Conference during the regular season. The loss has ended San Antonio's season.
The Pelicans will go into the Play-In Tournament against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday at 9 p.m. CDT at Arena in Los Angeles. TNT will televise the game.
On Tuesday night, the Clippers won a play-in game 109-104 to the seventh-place Minnesota Timberwolves. The victory led Minnesota to a best-of-seven series against the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA Playoffs.
The winner of the Pelicans-Clippers game will advance to compete against the Phoenix Suns, the West's top-seeded opponent, in the NBA Playoffs.
New Orleans won three of its four games against Los Angeles this season, although the loss came in the most recent meeting a 119-100 loss on April 3 in Los Angeles.
"We have a good idea of who they are as a team," says the author. "It'll be another extremely difficult task for us, and we just have to prepare."
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at the bottom of the page.