First Half - Almost Smooth Sailing
In the first quarter, the Pelicans went 5/7 from mid-range and roared out to a 12 point lead. Eric Gordon had nine quick points, Alexis Ajinca was knocking down 20-footers and the Pacers looked offensively challenged. As they say, performances like shooting 71% from mid-range are bound to regress to the mean. To wit, the Pelicans ended the game 10/23, shooting a frigid 29% from mid-range in the following three quarters.
As the game moved into the second frame, the Pacers slowly whittled away at the Pelican lead, cutting it from 12 to 5 as New Orleans committed four turnovers in the quarter. While Monty and Company avoided the long dry spell, the Pacers attacked the glass relentlessly, racking up six offensive rebounds. With 39 seconds remaining in the first half, the Pelicans avoided going 2-for-1 for reasons I cannot truly explain.
Second Half - Foul Rant
Getting technical fouls is an art form -- good teams know when to take them to turn the tide of a game. The Pelicans took three technical fouls tonight in the third quarter and still lost convincingly. The game was lost when New Orleans failed to score for 6:21 in the middle of the third, turning a five point lead into a thirteen point deficit. During that stretch, the Pelicans were called for four fouls, two of which were offensive (and the three aforementioned technicals). Pelican possessions were as follows:
- Missed Gordon Three
- Holiday Turnover
- Holiday Turnover (Offensive Foul)
- Aminu blocked by West
- Davis blocked by Hibbert
- Davis blocked by West
- Holiday blocked by Hill
- Evans missed jumper
- Gordon blocked by Hibbert
- Davis Turnover (Offensive Foul)
- Stiemsma missed layup
During the same time frame, Lance Stephenson made three layups with obvious push offs. Hibbert's "block" on Davis consisted of Roy not being vertical, initiating contact with the body, and reaching horizontally for the ball. Quite simply, the Pacers were the more physical team, initiating contact, and were called for fewer fouls. Davis, along with the rest of the team, were frustrated with the uneven officiating. After the second and third technicals, Tyreke Evans shot four free throws on the next two possessions. Too little too late.
Typically, I would complain about how the Pelicans were failing to shoot three point shots or attack the basket, but that simply was not the case. New Orleans continuously attacked the basket throughout the game, especially in the third quarter. The Pacers blocked five shots in the third quarter alone and were not called for a shooting foul until after the second and third technical on the Pelicans. After those technical fouls, the Pacers were called for six shooting fouls and did not have a block. Too little too late -- the momentum had changed so much, it really didn't matter.
New Orleans did not challenge after the disastrous third quarter. Good news is that no Pelicans were injured during the game. Eric Gordon was most effective in the first half and finished the game with 21 points on 16 shots to go along with an impressive 6 rebounds. Anthony Davis was much less efficient than normal, but still maintained his double figures streak in scoring. The only game he has not reached 10 points was the Knicks game when he injured his hand. The Pelicans shot more free throws than their opponent for the first time since December 21st. 18 of their 26 free throws came in the final 14 minutes after the technical fouls on Jrue Holiday and Assistant Coach Dave Hanners.