Coming into the game, Monty had a mandate out: Anthony Davis needs 20 shots or more. In the pre-game show, Austin Rivers first mentioned the biggest thing was getting AD touches.
After 24 minutes, the Pelicans had 28 points. They shot 29.7% from the floor and had 0 fast break points. Despite their size advantage in the front court, they had six less rebounds. They had a disadvantage of 28-16 in points in the paint. And their usually good assist to turnover ratio? More hideous than the original Pierre the Pelican -- 7 assists vs. 9 turnovers.
Paralysis by analysis.
It largely looked to be that simple. There was absolutely no offensive flow and any player not named Davis, didn't want to shoot the ball, regardless of whether they were open. Austin Rivers thought it was best to dribble into traffic in the paint and put up shots we remember well from his rookie season. Jrue Holiday didn't feel 6 feet of space at the 3 point line was a good shot.
Yeah, there were a few more things that had went sour, but in general, it was obvious the theme of the game of getting AD more touches had a profound negative effect on the team at the outset.
During halftime, I had hoped Monty would have merely tried to erase their memories over the last several days or so and just tell them to go out there and play basketball.
Guess what? They more or less did.
The Pelicans racked up 63 points in the 2nd half. They added 16 assists, but turned it over just 3 times. They tallied 9 fast break points. They made up their 12 point deficit and tied the Hawks with 52 points in the paint.
The problem was that they couldn't stop the Hawks from scoring on the other end. Outside of Omer Asik, nearly everyone had a hand in the failure. Not hustling after loose balls. Not properly defending individual players. Failing in rotations. Giving 3 point shooters with the name Korver printed on the jersey 8 feet of air space, or worse, fouling them. Lots and lots of issues on that end of the floor folks.
- For the last two games, Anthony Davis has clearly not been the best Pelican on the floor. 14 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block is nothing to sneeze at, but one can't deny it's a far cry from his lines the first twelve games. Have we put him on too high of a pedestal? What do you think Monty? Awhile back, I mused that nasty repercussions mighty occur, not only for AD's individual offense, but for the rest of the team, were the team to suddenly change their offensive philosophy and make AD the focal point. Considering Monty's mandate, the team's first half performance, and Davis' final inefficient line, I think there is some truth to that. AD and the team are simply not ready for him to be a consistent volume shooter yet. So let's stop forcing the issue right now.
- Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson combined for 58 points on 50 percent shooting. All three accomplished scorers each made 8 field goals. The team has a wealth of offensive talent so it makes little sense in trying to make a single player the absolute focal point. Dell Demps intentionally designed this team to have a lot of firepower, so please, no restrictions.
- Austin Rivers, the once timid thinker, re-emerged. 0 for 8 from the floor and he looked more useless than Eric Gordon did at anytime before his injury. Seriously, go look at some of his game tape from the first handful of games. Two totally different players. That Austin, who played with a sense of calm and made the right decisions, is dead, or at least out of the country on holiday.
- John Salmons got 25 minutes of run, 14 more than in any other game to date. Yeah, he made 3 three-pointers, but overall, he was awful. He both fouled and gave Korver loads of space. His defense is worse than anyone else on the roster. He has the team's worst defensive rating at 121.2, nearly 13 points worse than Ryan Anderson, who is usually himself lost on that end of the floor. And somehow don't you get the feeling this veteran just earned himself a lot more time going forward?
- I get what Monty Williams was trying to accomplish, but the delivery of his messages to the team continue to go wrong. Anthony Davis is our best player. No doubt he is the team's most effective weapon. However, you can't go and set such a mandate and not expect it could paralyze the team. One that relies on so much feel and instinct. We're not the Spurs, who run crisp set plays and have it drilled into them where they should be on the floor at any given moment. We're young and born to run. We will make mistakes. However, if you allow the athleticism and talent to freedom to operate, it will win out most nights. Subjecting them to a change in ideology without a chance for incremental development will result in failure.
This was not the game Pelican fans wanted to see after losing at home to the Kings, who were without both Rudy Gay and Darren Collison. But it happened. Can the coaching staff say my bad and instead focus on what continues to be the team's malady, their defense?
Tomorrow, the Pelicans go to the nation's capital and will face the #2 team in the Eastern Conference. John Wall will be a handful, but the Wizards just got Bradley Beal back. Two losses in two nights out East, while falling under .500, will have naysayer emerging out of the woodwork. It'll be hard to fend them off.