Wade and LeBron Overwhelm Pelicans

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans controlled the game through the first three quarters, playing respectable defense and scoring seemingly at will. But at the start of the fourth quarter, with their starters off the court and Dwayne Wade on for the Heat, Miami quickly turned a 5 point deficit into a 15 point advantage. The matchup problem was evident at the end of the 1st and the beginning of the second, as well - with Brian Roberts and Austin Rivers manning the backcourt for the Pelicans, New Orleans had a hard time getting the ball into the paint, lacked deep threats, and were unable to defend Dwayne Wade and the rest of the Miami backups. For the first time this postseason, the Pelicans' starters looked dominant, but the backups were clearly over-matched.

Anthony Davis had another efficient offensive outing, scoring 18 points on only 9 shots. While facing the athletic and wiry Bosh, he appeared to have little difficulty in driving into the lane. He's by far the team's best pick and roll threat, and he distorts the defense whenever he sets a screen. In the second quarter, he set a good pick on the ball-handler's defender (I think it was Gordon with the ball). As he rolled to the lane, Jrue Holiday's defender cheated off him to prevent Davis the pop option while Davis's defender prevented the roll option. Holiday slid along the three-point line and was able to hit a wide-open three. The power of his pick-and-rolls is that it makes the opposing defense make very tough choices.

Greg Stiemsma was completely worthless yet again, committing an incredible 4 fouls and 3 turnovers in just over 12 minutes while scoring no points. Oleh was asking in the comments whether Stiemsma was Dell Demps's worst move thus far, and I couldn't come up with one.

That was until I remembered that he drafted Austin Rivers, who was really bad in his 13 minutes of play today. He scored just two points, committed a couple of turnovers, and was positively torched by Dwayne Wade on defense. His defensive woes weren't really his fault - forcing him to cover Wade while Roberts does his turnstile thing isn't a recipe for disaster.

Eric Gordon had another excellent game - 19 points on 12 shots. He attacked the basket, got into the paint at will, and knocked down 3 out of his 7 threes. I thought his defense was solid, but the Pelicans were -23 while he was on the court. Perhaps I missed something, but it seemed like the Pelicans were a lot better with him on the floor.

Jrue Holiday was the best I've seen him this preseason. He was efficient off the dribble and was effective from long range, as well as playing some solid defense. He had 6 assists with 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting, but he had 5 turnovers. The whole team had a hard time with the Heat's super-aggressive defense, and Holiday was no exception - he would often get trapped by the Heat's unrelenting double-teams on pick-and-roll plays.

Anthony Morrow had the best shooting line of the night - 16 points on 4 of 7 shooting. His 3 three-pointers on 5 attempts was part of a really good shooting night for the Pelicans from downtown, who made 44% of their 25 threes. New Orleans was holding the Heat to around 35% shooting from three until the fourth quarter, when Norris Cole and Wade went on a tear and brought up the team's shooting percentage to 50%.

Al-Farouq Aminu started fantastically, in what has become an odd trend. He started 3-3 from the field with a pair of jumpers and then went on to finish the game 1-6. Impressively, however, he had 9 rebounds, 7 of them defensive. The reason Aminu was a valuable player last year was due to his outrageous defensive-rebounding percentage. Up until now in the preseason, we haven't really seen him nab the defensive boards. He had a hard time defending LeBron, but that can't exactly be held against him.

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