At the start of the game, the Pelicans jumped out to an 18-11 point lead. This despite losing Jrue Holiday in less than 6 minutes with 2 personal fouls. Later, CJ Miles checked in for the Pacers and scored 7 points helping cut the Pelicans lead to just 2 by the end of the first quarter, 26-24.
In the second quarter, the pace slowed considerably, much to the Pacers delight. Roy Hibbert became a 1-man wall and ended up with 7 blocks in the first half.
Most surprising stat from 1st half: Pacers lead blocked shots 11-1. #Pelicans rank second in NBA in blocks (6.1 per game); Pacers are 19th— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) December 24, 2014
The Pelicans only managed 14 points for the frame and didn't score a single point in the final 3:58 of the quarter. For the half, they finished with 8 turnovers and a nasty 34.8 FG%. All things considered, to be only down 4 points seemed quite fortunate.
In the 2nd half, Anthony Davis started off with a made jump shot, just like at the start of the game. However, outside of several Tyreke Evans hoops, the quarter would go on to belong to the Pacers. Despite Hibbert exiting out of the game with a knee bruise, they managed to build an 8 point lead on the back of a 9-2 run. Monty Williams called a timeout, but unfortunately that didn't stop their momentum. The Pacers would go on to add another 4 points before Holiday finally broke the dry spell at around the 4 minute mark.
Heading into the final frame the Pelicans found themselves down 9, 70-61. During the first few minutes, Eric Gordon gave an interview to Jen Hale and touched on his rehab. According to him, he is now able to move nearly the same amount of weight with his injured shoulder as his healthy one. Certainly good news.
The first 4 points of the fourth quarter came via Dante Cunningham jumpers; however, the Pels found themselves down 12 after the first 3 minutes. Holiday re-entered for Rivers, who was having an off game, but Jrue remained cold as his jumpers continued to rim out.
At around the 6 minute mark, Hibbert returned, but that was when the Pelicans decided to make one final push. Anthony Davis converted 2 straight And-1 opportunities. After a silly Anderson turnover where he stepped out of bounds, Holiday came back on the next possession with a lay-in to make it a five point deficit. Too bad that would be the closest New Orleans would come for the rest of the game.
- Anthony Davis had a team-high 21 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 1 block. However, outside of his 2 And-1 opportunities he was as invisible as he's been all season. It certainly didn't help the Pelicans were unable to throw proper lob passes tonight. Twice in the 3rd quarter, the Pelicans misfired on what would have been sure-fire AD dunks.
- Omer Asik had 6 points and 9 rebounds in just 22 minutes of action. The most promising thing though was he showed off some good footwork on offense several times. Considering how often his man, especially shot-blockers, like to play off of him, it'd be nice if he could learn to keep them honest a little more throughout games.
- Tyreke Evans statistically had a rare nice game on the road with 14 points (6-13 FG's), 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, but the problem was he was too quiet for too many stretches. Normally, this isn't the case for him, yet tonight Jrue Holiday dominated the possessions. Maybe his knee limited him?
- From the 2 early fouls to a bunch of missed jump shots, Jrue Holiday could never get it going. He missed all five of his three point looks, failed to register a steal and had 5 assists vs. 3 turnovers.
- Luke Babbitt made 2 three-pointers within the first 5 minutes of the game, but managed to score only 4 more points for the rest of the game. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. The offense has to always be aware of getting him involved. Good things happen when they do. If the team refuses to push the pace, his teammates need to be instructed to find him at every opportunity he's open in order to stretch defenses for everyone else.
- After a string of nice games, the bench was bad. Ryan Anderson missed all 6 of his three-point attempts and fouled out of the game. Austin Rivers went 1-5 with 3 turnovers in 15 minutes. In all, the reserves combined for 17 points in 91 minutes. Ouch.
If you read my piece posted earlier today, you shouldn't be surprised I'm upset by the fact the Pelicans were outscored 14-11 in fastbreak points. Worse, coming into the game, the Pacers were the 2nd worst team in the league averaging only 8.4 fastbreak points a game.
In the linked article, I mentioned the Pelicans have usually been out of luck if the offense is missing shots. Tonight, the offense was cold, yet the Pelicans failed to push the pace at all after the 1st quarter. Their transition defense allowed a team that refuses to run 14 points.
New Orleans cannot continue to allow opponents to dictate the pace, nor fail to take advantage of their athleticism in the open floor. After how the second quarter ended, where Roy Hibbert became such a force in the paint, the Pelicans needed to make the critical adjustment at halftime. The coaches should have demanded the offense not allow the Pacers to get set.
It's simple: good teams find other ways to win. Obviously, we're not there yet.
Final Final Thought
I hope each and everyone of you have a safe and Happy Holiday season!!! We'll see you back here after Christmas Day when the Pelicans will take on the San Antonio Spurs in the Smoothie King Center. Geaux Pels!