Pelicans lose again, coronating Kings, 96-89

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Thompson stifled Anthony Davis throughout the night - Davis never got into much of a rhythm and had to get most of his catches far on the wings, where he wasn't able to drive to the basket and instead was forced to shoot contested jumpers.

Rohan and I were talking earlier this week about how Davis never seems to get easy looks anymore. It used to be that a good chunk of his offense came after a driving teammate forced Davis's man into help defense and Davis would sneak into the circle for an easy dunk. I tallied up the different places Davis got the ball while watching the game - I was distracted at times, but I think I got a pretty accurate count:

Wing - 8 times, all in the first half. Most of the time he was 16 feet from the bucket or so, once he was coming off a ball screen, but the vast majority of the time he was just isolated a long ways from the basket. He didn't make any shots from this position.

Elbow - 3 times. Davis got the ball a couple times off the curl, where he was much more effective - he got fouled twice.

Restricted area - 3 times. Once Davis got the ball while it was rolling around and then was blocked, one time he made a turn-around from the low block, and one time he got an easy dunk as a driving Evans drew Davis's man away from him.

The corner - Davis got an open look from the corner late in the fourth and drained it - kind of crazy that he could eventually have that kind of range.

I think the implication is clear - Davis shouldn't be getting the ball in isolation 16 feet from the basket and then asked to do stuff - it doesn't really end well, especially against elite defenders.

Tyreke Evans, by contrast, had a fantastic night in his old digs. He was consistently able to get to the rim, made some nifty passes to open men, and was even able to knock down a couple of threes - something we haven't seen from Evans this season at all. He finished with 27 points on 14 shots - a model of efficiency.

The story through the first half was definitely the physical dominance of DeMarcus Cousins, who couldn't be contained by Alexis Ajinca in the early going. He got most of the Pelicans' big men in foul trouble. At the end of the second quarter, he picked up two tough fouls and had to sit down. Early in the third, he picked up another and wasn't a factor again until midway through the fourth quarter. Stiemsma's ability to get him into foul trouble was critical, but Boogie should be commended for not lashing out at the officials after some questionable foul calls.

Let's go to the bullets:

  • Eric Gordon had a rough night defensively trying to contain Ben McLemore - the rookie's speed really gave Gordon fits, and EJ seemed lost at times trying to stick with him. On offense, Gordon was able to hit some threes to keep the Pelicans in it late in the second, but otherwise wasn't particularly helpful.
  • Jeff Withey had a great game on defense - his presence was really felt in the first several minutes he was in the game, where he notched several blocks and nabbed a good number of defensive rebounds. He was really great in secondary defense on Cousins, keeping Boogie from getting easy looks. As was noted in the comments, Withey's really good at going up vertical with both hands, which prevents easy shots but doesn't generate many fouls.
  • Stiemsma and Ajinca were really outclassed by DeMarcus Cousins down low, unsurprisingly. They had to resort to hacking Cousins (Stiemsma fouled out and Ajinca got close) and DeMarcus made them pay from the foul line. On offense, neither Ajinca or Stiemsma could do much of anything productive - if we're going to be playing a big hulking 7 footer all the time, we really need a decent one at some point.
  • The officiating was pretty poor throughout the game - it didn't really swing one way or the other, but the calls were pretty regularly wrong.
  • Pelicans travel down south to Los Angeles to face the worst team in the Western Conference tomorrow - they'll need to clean up their act to try to at least get a win during the Mardi Gras trip.
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