New Orleans came back home battered and bruised after their first road trip, a loss at the hands of Memphis. The most damaged part appeared to be the Pelican psyche as they had routinely missed wide open shots throughout the first week of the season. Could they turn it around on the second night of a back-to-back? Against a playoff* team?
*Eastern Conference version
Well, not really. They still shot an atrocious 5-18 behind the arc and missed multiple opportunities to really blow the doors off Charlotte. Still, some of the woes (19-19 at the free throw line) were corrected and Anthony Davis found the range on his jumper in the third quarter, extending the margin.
Speaking of third quarters; this is the fourth consecutive game the Pelicans just demolished their opponent coming out of the half. Eight of the ten field goals were assisted on (Holiday led the way with 4 assists in the quarter) as the ball and players were moving around creating numerous high quality scoring opportunities.
The key was getting stops. Charlotte only collected one offensive rebound in the quarter and came up empty on 14 of 23 possessions. Only the heroics of Gary Neal kept the game from getting out of hand.
+1 to Monty Williams
Austin Rivers was efficient and effective all night long. Rivers finished through traffic, made his free throws, and provided solid defense. His stat line (12 points on 9 shots, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers in 32 minutes) is not overwhelming but his versatility was key in keeping the Pelicans afloat during an otherwise awful second quarter.
Russ Smith-Jimmer Fredette-Austin Rivers-Ryan Anderson-Alexis Ajinca was an actual lineup Monty Williams had to use tonight. Smith played like a rookie and Ajinca fouled literally anything that moved compiling five personal fouls in just five minutes on the court. In crunch time with Eric Gordon still struggling Monty went with Rivers to close out the game instead.
+1 to Monty Williams
Ryan Anderson was tremendous tonight. He knocked down two threes (and barely missed a couple more) while delivering a doctoral dissertation on post offense to poor
Tyler Cody Zeller. Honestly Zeller should be prepared for these things with Al Jefferson on the team but on multiple occasions Anderson left him grasping for air.
2-6 behind the arc is still below average (for Ryan Anderson), but ending up 7-12 from the field for 16 points is not awful whatsoever. Altogether the Pelican bench poured in 30 points tonight. Rivers and Anderson obviously led the way. Jimmer Fredette got 14 minutes of playing time, scrapped hard even when posted up by a big, yet left the court without attempting a shot. Perplexing.
Omer Asik, as noted in the preview, got the job done tonight on Al Jefferson. Professor Al did score 20 points; it took him 17 shots and 4 trips to the foul line (19 possessions) to reach that total. More importantly, the Pelicans refused to double him in the post. This resulted in horrendous stat lines from Gerald Henderson (6 points on 4 shots), and free agent acquisitions Marvin Williams (9 points on 9 shots) and Lance Stephenson (2 points on 6 shots with 5 turnovers).
Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans continue to produce points, though not in the most attractive fashion. Evans drives continue to suck the entire defense into the paint creating assist chances (5 tonight for Tyreke) and offensive rebound opportunities (3 missed layups were converted by tips/dunks). Davis was best on defense tonight despite the offensive numbers. He challenged Marvin Williams three point looks under control without giving up cheap fouls or biting on pump fakes. That 7'7" wingspan is why Williams shot 1-5 behind the arc tonight.
For your viewing pleasure, a gorgeous Jrue Holiday-Anthony Davis Alley-Oop.
-Jrue Holiday thoroughly outplayed Kemba Walker tonight. 16 points (on 11 shots), 9 assists, and 0 turnovers. Jrue manipulated the pick and roll beautifully tonight to include the above highlight. Kemba was not so fortunate scoring 11 points on 13 shots while chipping in just 3 assists.
-Omer Asik had his best game as a Pelican tonight. 10 points (on 4 shots, are you serious?), 11 rebounds, 3 assists (for a man with stone hands he can really pass quickly off the catch), and just 2 personal fouls while guarding Jefferson for 28 minutes. Asik will not be that efficient on offense, but the rest of it (defense, rebounding) you can depend on night in and out.
-85.7% - That was the Pelicans defensive rebounding percentage tonight. Elite on the glass.
-2 - The number of second half turnovers the Pelicans had tonight.
-Gary Neal was the lone bright spot for the Hornets tonight. Just unreal his ability to shoot off the dribble.
-Austin Rivers has been good this season. 7.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 turnovers and shooting 52.4% from the field. His shot chart below shows the difference - finishing at the rim.
-No one knows with Eric Gordon. He is surely frustrated. The coaching staff is disappointed. The Pelican fans are furious, as represented by the chorus of boos that rained down when he nearly air-balled a wide open mid range jump shot. Are the "yips" a thing in basketball? (Note, he did make all four of his free throws and should have been awarded at least two more as Joel Meyers and David Wesley noted in the broadcast.)
-Speaking of the broadcast. I like the new Fox Sports stat overlays and the fonts they use now. It looks closer to an HD broadcast but still substandard compared to national broadcasts. (That is only a comment on picture quality.) The smoke hangs in the arena after the player introductions giving the first quarter the look of a game played in a bar. Maybe the Pelicans can ax the flamethrowers behind each basket for player introductions.
-Tyreke Evans is shooting 46.7% from behind the arc. When he is shooting off the catch he does an excellent job getting his feet under his body and going more-or-less straight up. Off the dribble those mechanics breakdown and he is still fading away, leading to short shots.
Let's hear your thoughts on the big Pelicans win tonight.