After watching the fourth quarter of Pelicans-Hawks again, I was curious to see what would happen here in the first quarter for the Pelicans. It was one of the more crisp quarters for New Orleans this season offensively. New Orleans shot 55.6% in the quarter, had nine assists, and zero turnovers. Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson played well offensively, and I thought Monty Williams would try to recreate that quarter for the Pelicans here against Washington.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case tonight. The Pelicans didn’t give themselves any chance to capitalize on Washington's 23-point first quarter, scoring just 18 points in the first quarter. Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis combined for 3-11 shooting, Ryan Anderson drew two fouls while shooting just 1-3, and Marcin Gortat started 5-6. The unholy trinity for New Orleans. (Editor's note - If you only knew) The good for New Orleans was that neither team shot well. New Orleans shot just 33.3% from the field, while Washington shot 40.9%.
The second half was probably the weirdest quarter in the game. The Pelicans shot 35%, Washington shot 53%, and yet, the Pelicans outscored the Wizards 19-18. The reason? Washington got sloppy with the ball, resulting in seven turnovers. A theme: Anthony Davis doing things. Davis went 2-3 in the quarter and drew four free throws, going 4-4 for eight points in the quarter. This was also a John Salmons quarter. Salmons ended up playing the entire quarter and scoring four points on 2-4 shooting.
Going into the second half, the Pelicans were down four points to Washington, but it was the 34.1% shooting that made the lead seem insurmountable. Outside of Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, the Pelicans were struggling on the offensive end. Along with Rivers, Tyreke Evans was 2-8 in the first half, and bizarrely, taking jumpers, some from behind the three-point line, even. It was rough, unorganized basketball to start for the Pelicans. Part of it had to do with Washington's defense, but it was also the lack of Ryan Anderson in the first half. Anderson played just 8:05 in the first half, and not having the threat of a floor spacer hurt New Orleans early.
On the other end, Washington looked great on both sides of the ball. On the offensive end, Washington used their passing abilities to create easy looks for both Kris Humphries and Marcin Gortat. Especially Gortat, the Wizards were great in pulling away Asik and Davis from the rim and quickly dishing it for Gortat for an easy dunk. When Gortat couldn’t get the dunk and caught the ball away from the basket, he would throw up a jumper, where the results varied. John Wall and Bradley Beal both did a good job of moving the ball and finding open teammates, even while shooting 5-14 in the half.
Defensively, the Wizards did a great job at limiting passes on their possessions. There was no ball movement for much of the first half, as Wall and Beal did a great job of making sure Holiday or Rivers wouldn’t find Davis for an easy basket, or Ryan Anderson behind the arc. In the first half, New Orleans finished with three assists and six turnovers, four of them coming in the result of Washington steals.
The beginning of the third quarter resulted in much of the same thing for the Pelicans, as they would score just 21 points in the quarter. After scoring 13 points in the first half, Anthony Davis continued his work with eight points in the third. For most of the game, Davis looked aggressive, both attacking and driving on Washington’s power forward duo of Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden. With Nene out, Davis did a good job of scoring in a multitude of ways. We didn’t even get to the fourth yet.
For the second game in a row, the Pelicans saved their best quarter for last. Anthony Davis went 4-4 and added nine points in the fourth, helping New Orleans in their 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game. The ball movement was crisp, and they weren’t turning the ball over. Washington was missing shots, but New Orleans’ defense was the reason for that, as they switched to Davis at the center position on Gortat.
With a chance to win the game late, the Pelicans went with…something. Credit to Washington’s defense for guarding New Orleans’ only good three-point shooter in Ryan Anderson, forcing the ball to Tyreke Evans, who, again, was a non-factor for most of the game. Maybe if New Orleans had another good three-point shooter, the result could've been different. Overall, New Orleans got 30 points (on 18 shots) from Anthony Davis, the team shot 37% from the floor, and lost by three.
Austin Rivers probably shouldn’t start anymore. Rivers finished with four points and three assists. I don’t know what New Orleans should do with the vacant starting spot, but it shouldn’t be held by Rivers. Not only has he struggled offensively, but his defense is almost hazardous. There were two plays where Rivers lost his man as they ran him through screens, and he failed to recover completely. One play resulted in an open Beal three, the other saw Wall standing behind the three-point line with Rivers on the other side of the court.
I didn't give much credit to Jrue Holiday, but he had a solid game. Outside of the four turnovers, Holiday finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and shot 3-5 from three. Early, Holiday did well scoring the basketball and maintaining the offense early in the first quarter. Thanks to the defensive abilities of Wall and Beal, he didn't get to run the offense and create much, but he scored early, made open jumpers, and even spaced the floor.
Tyreke Evans had a bad offensive game, too. 2-15 shooting, 0-3 on threes, 0-2 on jumpers, and 2-9 on shots at the rim. Other than that, Evans finished with five rebounds, four assists, four steals, and just one turnover. That line was good, but still, if Evans had a couple shots at the rim fall, the result would be different. The worst part of it all was his threes. Take those to the basket or move the ball (he did well, 69 touches, 50 passes), ‘Reke.
Omer Asik had a rough night. The nine rebounds were fine, but Omer was crushed by Marcin Gortat. Gortat finished with 24 points on 12-20 shooting and 13 rebounds, but it was the way he scored. Gortat did a bit of everything- shooting a small jumper around the basket, an array of hook shots, and some clean finishes at the rim. It was a tough night for Omer.
The Pelicans lost their third game in a row, but we must move onward. The next game for New Orleans is against Oklahoma City on Dec. 3rd.