Tonight, the Pelicans got to add to their win column, but it felt eerily similar to a loss. The effort was lacking at times, Monty's rotations were -- yet again -- frustrating and the defense was much too shoddy against a weak sauce offensive team. But a win is a win, especially on the road and right before the start of a week long All-Star break. At least that's what home fans are still probably trying to convince themselves of.
Things started decently in the 1st quarter as the Pelicans offense clicked to the tune of a 65 FG% while the Bucks were held to 42.9%. Although the Pels lead by 6, it could have been 9 had Anthony Morrow gotten his last minute shot off an instant earlier.
In the second quarter, things turned for the worst as the shooting went cold and Anthony Davis managed to only play for 16 seconds as he picked up a quick 3rd personal foul. The Bucks outscored us by 9 but it wasn't because of any brilliant basketball on their part. For the first half, they held an 8-3 turnover and 10-0 (ZERO!!!) fast break edge.
After halftime, and learning that Pierre the Pelican's surgery got rid of his terrifying beak, New Orleans' curse seemed to have lifted. They poured in 37 points, hit 13-20 shots, swiped 4 steals and had only 1 turnover. They scored 18 points in the paint, had 10 fast break points and even managed to hit 3 long balls. All of this despite Davis picking up a 4th foul just 2:11 into the second half.
With all the momentum in the world, the 4th quarter was primed for an easy finish. Thus, of course, it had to go in an entirely different direction. After Tyreke Evans made 1 of 2 from the line, the Bucks went on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 84 with most of the quarter still to play. Although the Pelicans would maintain a lead the rest of the way, it was never safe. Not until, Al-Farouq Aminu came up with a steal with 9 seconds remaining.
- Anthony Davis might have had his worst game of the season: 12 points and 1 rebound. He was consistently in foul trouble as he was probably contemplating how many friends and family are going to need tickets for this upcoming weekend. Either that or Davis switched bodies with ...
- Alexis Ajinca! The Frenchmen was perfect on the night (7/7 from the field and 2/2 from the line) as he posted 16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and a block. Now, why he never got into the game after his tremendous 3rd quarter is a bit of a headscratcher. Hell, Greg Stiemsma ended up playing almost as many minutes.
- Eric Gordon was extremely efficient scoring 21 points on 13 shots and chipping in 6 assists against only 1 turnover. With the trade deadline looming, was this the last time we'll see the oft-maligned shooting guard?
- Al-Farouq Aminu had a very solid game with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. Why some continue to slam him is really weird. He's a vital cog, one of our rare athletes who has the ability to have a pronounced effect on the game despite the lack of a perimeter game.
- Luke Babbitt broke the 20 minute barrier for the first time in uniform and he continues to impress me. Enough anyways, as to where I'm inclined to believe he has a future in this league. Although Anthony Morrow is a better shooter, Babbitt has quickly become our best perimeter reserve threat. When he receives the ball, he shoots if open, throws a nice ball fake to get the defense off-kilter or quickly moves the ball to an open teammate. His decisiveness has been his most appealing attribute and he hasn't been the one trick pony many claimed we were getting -- both his rebounding and defense have been passable.
- Brian Roberts was, once again, pleasant offensively: 17 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 0 turnovers.
- Monty Williams, where do I begin? Against the worst team in the league, it took a bounce or two (Ilyasova's missed dunk + Aminu's last second steal) to walk away with the win. Playing to the level of the competition is disheartening. As are the continued nonsensical rotations. On a night when Ajinca goes supernova and Davis is in massive foul trouble, he doesn't see 22 minutes? Or, how about continuing to surround Evans with at least 2 other non-perimeter threats? Ryan Anderson did wonders for his stats, and now, with Babbitt in tow, shouldn't those two be adjoined at the hip? 52 games into the season and fans still have no clue whether your system has a chance for long-term success.