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Pelican Reserves Nearly Give Game Away: 88-84

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Beautiful beginning leads to an awful ending.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans ran out to a big lead early in the first quarter and did not look back until the reserves nearly gave away a 20 point lead in the fourth quarter. Tyreke Evans had his way with the Wizard wings, diving into the paint at will and finding shooters for threes (both Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers made corner threes off Evans assists) and bigs under the basket. Anthony Davis could not miss, going 5-5 in the first quarter to pace the Pelicans with 10 points.

Austin Rivers was the first reserve off the bench, entering for Eric Gordon after consecutive turnovers. On the very next possession Evans found him in the right corner for a three which Rivers converted. The next reserves off the bench were Ryan Anderson and Luke Babbitt for Omer Asik and Evans. It would appear that Luke Babbitt is currently the leader for minutes at the SF position.

The Pelicans took a 14 point lead into the second quarter and extended that to 20 by halftime. The all reserve unit of Rivers - Salmons - Babbitt - Anderson - Ajinca was notably horrible at creating quality offensive possessions, scoring just four points in the first four minutes. Thankfully Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, and Anthony Davis all came back into the game and righted the ship. In just two minutes Evans had four points, and assist, and two steals. 'Reke Havoc indeed.

The second half featured a long run of all reserves. Those reserves were provided a 20 point lead near the end of the third quarter and still nearly found a way to give it away. Washington scored 36 points in the fourth quarter after being held to just 29 in the first half. It was ugly all around and even featured a scrum. No player outside of the top six can really say they had an excellent game.

Anthony Davis left the game early in the third quarter with what appeared to be a wrist injury. Reporters in the arena did not appear to believe the injury is very serious.

UPDATE

Notes:

  • Washington did not play John Wall or Paul Pierce. The Wizards without shot creators really struggled to get quality looks, settling often for mid-range jumpers.
  • The starting lineup (Holiday-Gordon-Evans-Davis-Asik) was crisp. Tyreke had the ball in his hands a lot despite being positionally the small forward.
  • John Salmons was called for three fouls in three minutes to begin the second quarter, leading to Jimmer Fredette entering the game. Looks like Salmons and Fredette are battling for who is the reserve shooting guard.
  • Monty going ten players deep is disappointing if that is truly the regular season rotation. We can hope that is the coaching staff still experimenting with different bench units. Monty's history tells us he wants to play ten players.
  • That second unit of Rivers - Salmons - Babbitt - Anderson - Ajinca does not have many strengths but a ton of weaknesses.
  • Midway through the second quarter Monty threw out the "big" lineup with Holiday - Evans - Anderson - Davis - Asik on the court together. The Pelicans went to a 2-3 zone and Washington was thoroughly flummoxed. I doubt the zone is that effective, but Davis and Asik in a zone on the back line with the communication both were asserting could be effective.
  • On offense Anderson as a SF was a terror on the offensive boards. In a six minute span Anderson collected four offensive boards leading directly to seven points for New Orleans.
  • Anthony Davis and Omer Asik really controlled the boards tonight, gathering 19 rebounds in 45 minutes of combined work.
  • While Asik vacuums up rebounds catching the ball on offense is an entirely different matter. It comes with the package though, and was clearly marked.
  • The Pelicans will want for depth and/or better rotations this season. Asking Rivers to be the sole creator with some of those units is cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Jrue Holiday off the ball needs to be more willing to catch and shoot. He appeared hesitant on at least one occasion where he could have launched an open three.
  • In addition to problems with turnovers, the Pelicans committed 29 personal fouls tonight. There is overwhelming evidence that this team fouls too often. It must improve if New Orleans is going to win more games than they lose this season.