Through 3 quarters, the Pelicans looked as bad as their meager 61 points indicated: Tyreke Evans was an absolute mess, the ball movement was non-existent and Kevin Love was able to ball fake our entire roster with relative ease.
Thankfully, an NBA game consists of 4 quarters and for one of the rare times this season, the Pelicans were magical in the final frame. Fueled by 5 long balls, the Pelicans massacred the Wolves to the tune of a lopsided 37-20 edge.
The lineup largely responsible for the glorious comeback? Rivers-Gordon-Morrow-Babbitt-Davis. Give Monty credit. His typical big lineups...failed. Evans slicing and dicing...failed. Heck, he even didn't trust Roberts (and rightfully so) to remain in the game for most of the 4th quarter due to his defensive shortcomings.
- All-Star Anthony Davis (man that has a nice ring to it) had a weird game. In the 1st half, he tallied 16 points, 1 rebound and no blocks/steals. For the game though, he managed to finish with a double-double (26-10) and picked up 1 block/steal. For the majority of the game, Kevin Love frustrated him to no end with his numerous ball fakes but come crunch time, not so much.
- Eric Gordon had a splendid 2nd half, despite the small hiccup of his 2 successive turnovers in the closing minutes. Gordon scored 16 of his 20 points after halftime and hit a number of key jumpers. The 3-pointer seconds after the turnovers was especially satisfying.
- Brian Roberts was efficient on offense again (7-13 from the floor), but defensive issues prevented him from staying on the floor for more than 3 minutes in the 4th quarter. Going forward, Monty hopefully continues to balance the offense/defense substitutions closely.
- Luke Babbitt (no ESPN, it's not Bobbitt) saw his first action in a Pelicans jersey and he started off with a bang, hitting a three in his very first minute. After that, the shot deserted him, but despite some problematic defense, he showed solid hustle by nabbing 3 offensive rebounds. Also, it was refreshing to see one of our players attempt to use a good ball fake from the perimeter, and if nothing was available, make a quick pass to another teammate.
- Austin Rivers was a typical mixed bag. Positives: his defense is noticeably better than Roberts, his free throw streak is now up to 17 games and he hit a big 3 at the start of the 4th quarter to get the ball rolling. Negatives: he still misses point blank lay-ups and continues to get himself into trouble on other drives by jumping into hopeless situations.
- Anthony Morrow was smack dab in the middle of another wonderful run by our team. Yeah, he doesn't do much else other than launch pretty jumpers, but on this team that should get you consistent minutes.
- Tyreke Evans was akin to something like a train derailment, carrying hazardous waste, within city limits of a population of several million. If he wasn't running into walls of defenders, he was missing loads of looks at the rim. Let's hope he's a player who requires lots and lots of rhythm to be effective. We've seen it in stretches in the not-to-distant past but it will remain disturbing he's so one dimensional.
- Greg Stiemsma was constipating. 1 rebound in a shade over 19 minutes. Ugh.
- The Timberwolves attempted 21 more free throws. That's disgusting. What's worse, I didn't feel the referee's missed all that much as we certainly got a few calls/no-calls to go our way too. Tonight was a good representation that even if you're a team who attempts a high number of shots in the paint, it's not a given you deserve to go to the line often. The Pelicans have to clean up their out of control forays to the rim, learn better footwork and, in general, show the patience to get the defense to commit making a move before exploding in any direction. Until that happens, the referee's won't give us the necessary respect we deserve in games where we are actually get hit repeatedly.
The Pelicans have now won 6 of their last 8 games and are set to play their next 6 against Eastern conference opponents. There remains a small window that this team can get close to .500 soon, Jrue Holiday returns and New Orleans makes some kind of playoff push.