For those who haven't had a chance to visit the newly renovated and named Smoothie King Center I think you will be pleased. At a cost of 54 million dollars the improvements include a new exterior paint color, grand entry lobby, twice as large gift store, expanded box office, 2,000 square foot sports lounge on the second floor, a large media screen outside the ground floor entrance and exterior lighting features. It is all aesthetically pleasing and with the completion of the Pelicans franchise rebranding should draw fans to the the games. Combined with the Mercedes Benz Superdome New Orleans is certainly blessed to have these two facilities located next to each other conveniently located downtown.
I can't comment on the outdoor pre-game festivities because I chose to go to Borgne for their "Downtown Tuesdays" specials including $5 tapas, $2 craft beers and half price wines and well cocktails. The yummy Catfish Sliders and cerviche made this a good choice. Little did I know that earlier the Pelicans filmed a video there for their opening pre-game video that has been roundly criticized on the web for its amateurish production and veiled racist content. I however, LOVED the video. They were stressing the value of a TEAM putting out a good product under stress. Would any other players in the NBA agree to put out such a cheesy, scripted video? I doubt it. These guys are young, refreshing and on board. My daughter is a chef in the Besh Restaurant Group and I GET the analogy. My nominations: Best Actor, AD (Loved his expressiveness), Best supporting actors, Tyreke Evans(the way he plated the sauce) Eric Gordon (The way he dashed the hot sauce), and Jrue Holiday (The way Mr. smooth dropped the bread). Producers: John Besh and Tom Benson: Best Screenwriter: (Whoever wrote the lines for Monty and Tom Benson). Pelicans Pre-Game Video
The announced sell out crowd was 17,097 but I think actual attendance was much less, probably 12,000 max. Although it was a spottily attended game the fans managed to get rowdy at moments.
The encouraging thing about this game is that despite the Pelicans not playing well offensively to start the game their defense and intangibles allowed them to win comfortably. At one point in the game the Pelicans were shooting 3-15 from the FT line and Ryno was 4-15 shooting. Jimmer also was 0-6. I doubt there will be many more games where we shoot less than 50% from the free throw line.
Omer Asik bulled his way into a double-double in the first half and showed better than expected offensive skills and did not turn over the ball often.
Monty Williams completely faked me out with his unusual rotations that included bringing in John Salmons early and basically benching Luke Babbitt and Alexis Ajinca until he pulled the starters late in the fourth quarter. It will be popular to criticize Salmons for zero points on zero attempts and zero free throws, he did make some smart fouls, had 2 rebounds, ran the floor, played defense and finished with a +/- of 10 in 9:32 minutes of action.
Although Tyreke Evans was 5-15. most of his shots were in the paint, he got fouled, grabbed 9 rebounds and had 6 assist with 0 turnovers.
Anthony Davis can do whatever he wants on a basketball court. Period.
Jrue Holiday played well despite limited minutes due to a laceration that required stitches above his left eye. (He should have received a foul)
Eric Gordon played better defense than usual and had 2 blocks. I am just having a hard time seeing how he will contribute seeing how the offense appears it will run through Tyreke and Jrue.
Jimmer went 0-6 from the field but did make a couple of FT shots and tried to play D, with a steal and 0 turnovers. If only he could come on like Jannero Pargo did during the Hornets 2007-2008 season!
Austin drove to the basket well but still can't finish. I think he should play off the ball and Jimmer should play point when they are in the game together from what I've seen so far. It's obvious to me that Monty plans to play them together in certain situations. (Like against Luke Ridnour)
After shooting 4-14 through three quarters, Ryno made 3 three point shots in a row in less than 50 seconds to finish the 3rd quarter. This brought down the house and got the crowd into the game.
The reserves of Jeff Whitey, Luke Babbitt and Alexis Ajinca played 2:29 minutes of uninspired basketball when the starters were pulled.
Final thoughts. Our team was on fire at the end of the 3rd quarter, a time that the Pelicans were not able to sustain play last year. The officials let the teams play. The Pelicans had only 9 turnovers compared to 20 assist. 62 rebounds.
Overall a very enjoyable and encouraging night.
My only complaint was that the scoreboard did not publish player stats during the game. Every serious fan in my section were getting their stats from their cell phones. Me included. I missed a couple of plays as a result and my phone almost died. Hopefully this will be fixed before Saturday when the Mavs come to town because I can't wait to see how Omer and AD will defend Dirk. I will never forgive Dirk for how he and the Mavs dominated the Hornets for years after the New Orleans relocation in 2002.
Only regret is that I have to wait 4 days or an eternity for the next game