Oh my eyes. In what many predicted to be a win for the good guys, ended up as a nightmare -- fitting only for day-late Halloween fanatics hailing from Orlando.
The Magic came out with a purpose, and a pretty obvious game plan. In the first quarter, they had Nikola Vucevic go right at Jason Smith and he scored a quick 6 points. On the perimeter, Jameer Nelson set the tone -- hitting shots from the perimeter and getting to various spots on the floor with relative ease. Soon after, Arron Afflalo, Mo Harkless and Victor Oladipo all got a turn too.
Despite only being down 2 at the start of the second quarter, the vibe was ominous. The Pelicans were missing most of their attempts, but the Magic had little trouble converting their own. They were a step faster, contested shots much more effectively and experienced barely any hiccups. Until the inconsequential minutes of the fourth quarter, this largely held true throughout the rest of the game.
After a dominant preseason, the Pelicans are a quick and disappointing 0-2. And let's not sugarcoat it, they deserve to be sniffing every bit of the cellar.
Onto the scathing personnel notes:
- Greg Stiemsma's high point continues to be the day he inked his New Orleans contract. Everything that has followed since, simply put, has been putrid. For instance, my 2nd quarter notes were largely dominated by his foul play:
Stiemsma fails to take it strong to the hoop off a nice feed from Anthony Morrow @ 9:51.
Stiemsma looks like he's on an island at the elbow. Unable to find anyone within the flow of the offense and even decided it's worth hoisting up a poorly missed shot.
Stiemsma, aka the foul magnet, lives on. Even among the most absentminded of referees, his personal fouls will always stand out. Is there no middle ground?
Stiemsma's offensive rebounding is non-existent. Even when he manages to get into good position, he doesn't come close to corralling the rebound, let alone giving a yeoman's effort tipping it in the hoop or to another teammate.
Yes, it's a broken record, just two games into the season, but to ignore it, would be an even greater injustice. Greg Stiemsma, an NBA journeyman who didn't step onto an NBA court until the age of 26, doesn't deserve any court time. However, until Ryan Anderson returns, does Monty really have any other legitimate options?
- Al-Farouq Aminu should perhaps be thrown back into Monty's doghouse. Hey, it kind of worked once before, right? His defensive assignment, Harkless, went off. Yes, this young but offensively challenged player had little trouble making shots from the outside or getting busy in the paint. If Aminu can't lock down one of the leagues least effective shooting forwards, he needs to take a seat next to Stiemsma.
- Jason Smith, one game removed from serious foul trouble, ended up reversing the script: offered little to no resistance defensively and missed jumper after jumper on the other end. Generally, we understand he's been pushed into a starting role that he's obviously not suited for, but I expect more out of the team's elder statesman. Decent roleplayers should still be able to make enough of a positive impact among the starting five.
- Jrue Holiday's offense was alright, despite too many midrange shots. Yet, weirdly, his defense was very questionable -- Nelson dictated strategy much more effectively. When New Orleans traded for this 24 year old All-Star, we expected him to be head and shoulders better than Vazquez. Let's write this off to some one game funk, but in the future, fans have a right to expect more from what many consider to be the team's second best player.
- Anthony Davis displayed very good energy that resulted in some stellar boardwork (17 rebounds) and several exciting tips/dunks at the rim. However, he didn't seem to be in control like we've seen over the past month. He was too quick with a number of his moves and, unsurprisingly, many of his attempts missed the mark.
- Anthony Morrow can flat out shoot the ball. With Ryan Anderson sidelined, is there any excuse why he only got five shots all night? Especially when Tyreke couldn't accurately punch in the correct GPS coordinates for the barn?
- Jeff Withey was active tonight, at Lance Thomas' expense. Yet, even in a bad blowout, he received only 4:47 minutes of playing time. Many of us have been clamoring for more minutes, but tonight, I saw enough glimpses that he's probably not ready. Is he currently better than Stiemsma? Maybe. But tonight, I understood why Monty has him still riding around with training wheels. Withey had several decent stops on Andrew Nicholson, but overall he didn't exhibit much paint presence. In several scrums in the paint, he was nowhere to be found. Plus, in what should have been a dunk on a nice cut to the rim, ended as a strip to the opposing PG.
So there you have it -- three positives (Holiday's pull-up game, Unibrow's energy and Morrow's shooting prowess) floating in an otherwise cesspool of a game. Hopefully, we'll be able to forget this loss quickly with the Bobcats next on the schedule tomorrow.
However, it's worrisome to be thinking so early in the regular season that the Pelicans might be in play for a top 5 pick in the 2014 draft.