Anthony Davis started the game off like a veteran -- attempting to put the entire team on his back. (Granted, it's gotten much easier since the calender flipped to 2014, you know, with close to half of the regulars in street attire.) In the first quarter, he went off for 15 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block. He made 5/6 from the field and 5/5 from the line. Total domination.
On the flip side, with word that Jason Smith was the newest indefinitely sidelined Pelican, Monty Williams opted to start Greg Stiemsma. Awful doesn't even being to describe his play. From failing to boxout his man, Andrew Bogut, which led to a 2nd chance three pointer, to forgetting to pick up David Lee when it was obvious to everyone in the arena Davis was coming back late alongside Bogut (after an offensive rebound attempt), he was an utter abomination. As I tweeted, if Monty continues to roll out Stiemsma with the starting lineup, Pelican fans are going to be forced to ask for his immediate resignation.
Stiemsma's notoriously bad play was even more evident by the minutes of Alexis Ajinca and Jeff Withey. Ajinca was lousy with his man-to-man defense, getting burned by Marreese Speights several times, but at least he contributed in other areas including rebounding and hustle.
So almost by default, Withey was our best center (our current 3rd-stringer) who gave the best minutes on both ends of the floor. He almost threw down a dunk in traffic and nearly had a 3-point play, but his stats don't tell tell the full story. He showed glimpses of what the future may bring by willingly battle underneath (just wait until his strength improves), made himself available around the rim as an outlet for a driving playmaker and attempted to be active defensively in the paint.
In the second quarter, Pels fans were ONCE MORE treated to their team building a nice lead (11 points) and then be subjected to giving most of it away in the waning moments. The Warriors went on a 9-0 binge, thanks to multiple New Orleans breakdowns around the rim.
Halftime score, 54-52.
The 3rd quarter started with an Eric Gordon sighting. After an uncommonly slow 1st half, he scored a quick 4 points. But as quickly as he got it going, it stopped...and pretty much for the entire team. About the only positive worth mentioning was that Stiemsma got substituted out after 3:10 of court time. Well that, and the fact the Pelicans closed out the quarter on a 6-0 burst to be down 78-72.
The 4th quarter started beautifully as the team remembered it should look for Davis on most possessions. Despite playing the entire 3rd, he had enough energy to score several times in the post. A minute later, and who could blame him, Monty took Davis out of the game.
Well, that lasted less than 2 minutes as the Pelicans offense fell apart -- headlined by two Tyreke Evans turnovers. However, despite Unibrow's return, Evans continued to dominate the ball and tallied several more turnovers and threw in a number of missed shots at the rim for good measure.
Sadly, the lack of help for Davis down the stretch has quickly become a theme with this team. Until they figure it out, this 8-game losing streak might not be the low point on what's turning into a very forgettable season.
- Greg Stiemsma is bad at basketball. Period. There isn't a bone in his body that understands offense, defense nor rebounding. He can't even set screens, and if you're into torture, re-watch some of his minutes. He just jaunts around the floor without even attempting to put his body anywhere noteworthy.
- As bad as Stiemsma is at basketball, Anthony Davis is the polar opposite. Tonight, he went off for 31 points, 17 rebounds and 1 block but it should have been better. There were stretches in both the 3rd and 4th quarters where the team didn't look for him nearly enough.
- Before the season is out, Monty has got to do something about our PnR defense. The high hedging continues to accomplish nothing. In fact, it's worse than nothing as tonight both the ball-handler and the roller were usually open. Stephen Curry had 7 lay-ups and a lot of it was due to this lousy strategy.
- Austin Rivers needs to thank Stiemsma for having #TheWorst game. Otherwise, he would have really gotten ripped for looking nearly as bad.
- Tyreke Evans started fine but finished with a thud as all 4 of his turnovers came in the final frame. Yes, we'll give him a pass for playing in his first game back; nonetheless, his decision making shouldn't be this bad.
- Davis played 43:01 out of a possible 48 minutes; Withey posted his 2nd highest minute total of his career (14:07)