Brian Roberts led the Pelicans in a second half played by each team's bench, scoring 21 points and hitting 4 of his 5 threes. He did most of his scoring against the Magic scrubs, but he still outplayed his main competition for backcourt minutes, Austin Rivers. Rivers scored only 5 points on 7 shots, but he played reasonably good defense. You have to wonder who will be getting more playing time as the season starts. Rivers is the better defender, but his lack of offensive polish is really hurting his chances of being Holiday's backup.
The other story of the night had to be the success of the Holiday-Evans-Gordon-Anderson-Davis lineup, which we expect will be the squad that closes games this year. David put the offensive outcomes of that lineup in the comments of the game thread:
-Missed Anderson 22 footer
-Evans missed 21 footer (Davis ORB) Evans Layup
-Missed Anderson 27 footer
(Morrow enters for Gordon)
-Davis 18 footer
-Holiday 27 footer
Offensively, the Magic couldn't guard what the Pelicans were doing - Evans, Gordon, and Holiday were all able to penetrate the defense, and Orlando had to collapse down to protect the rim, leaving shooters like Gordon, Holiday, and Anderson all floating around the perimeter. Defensively, the unit played with a ton of energy - it seemed like the rotations were a bit late, but Monty's strategy seems to be to use the athleticism of the defense to compensate for its lack of size, bringing double-teams from guards when Davis or Anderson are isolated against stronger opponents.
Anthony Davis was his efficient self in limited minutes, scoring 9 points on 3 of 3 shooting. He had this circus dunk in transition on a dubious half-court pass from Jrue Holiday, which was pretty sweet. On defense, he had some uncharacteristic issues defending the pick-and-roll, hedging way too aggressively on the screens and giving up some passing lanes.
Monty doesn't seem to have a solution to his center dilemma. Jason Smith had a mediocre game starting at center, picking up a good number of fouls trying to defend Nikola Vucevic in the post. Greg Stiemsma did his Greg Stiemsma-y thing over 10 minutes, scoring no points and committing two fouls and two turnovers. Jeff Withey got his only serious minutes of the preseason, playing 15 minutes and performing pretty well. He was playing against scrubs, of course, but he still scored 8 points on 5 shots. He nabbed 5 rebounds and even dished out two assists.
So here's the situation down low: we have Stiemsma, who's clearly not up to the task of playing significant minutes at this point. We have Smith, who really plays better when guarding power forwards. And we have Withey, who looks promising but hasn't had much of an opportunity to prove himself. Some combination of three of these guys will be playing around 35 minutes per game this year at center. If the preseason dilemma continues, it could be a very long year for the Pelicans down low.