The Pelicans had no business losing this game, but with Monty at the helm, it just seems inevitable now. His strict adherence to a traditional game plan coupled with terrible adjustments in the second half allowed the Grizzlies to come from behind for the win.
In the first half, and especially the 2nd quarter, the Pelicans dominated. Anthony Davis was unstoppable. The Grizzlies had decided to guard our All-Star with Zach Randolph, allowing Davis to catch the ball in space on most parts of the floor. Naturally, he made them pay with 22 points on 8-11 from the field.
As all good things must come to an end, Coach David Joerger smartly made an adjustment at halftime by shifting Tayshaun Prince onto Davis. Randolph was now free to patrol the paint and help as needed since his assignment, Al-Farouq Aminu, posed little threat. Davis didn't get a field goal attempt until the 7:53 mark of the 4th quarter! Not surprisingly, the Pelicans 9 point lead at intermission was wiped out in the first 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter.
However, it wasn't entirely over. On most nights, the Pelican's effort is well above average as they battle, fight and never quit. Tonight was no different, and thanks to some timely steals, a lot of good Austin Rivers and a few midrange jumpers by Roberts, the Pelicans were able to hold onto the lead until the final moments.
During the last 4:07 of the game, the Pelicans scored two points. Some crunch time, huh? A combination of too much lane-clogging Stiemsma and a lack of intelligent offensive plays doomed the Pelicans. Our young team, without the support of a solid system, felt the need to take matters into their own hands and not shockingly, came up short. From a Rivers errant cross-court pass to a number of low percentage jumpshots, it was painful to watch. The worst though, had to be the inability of the offense to get Davis properly involved for 24 minutes (he officially had 3 field goal attempts for the entire 2nd half).
- By playing Greg Stiemsma 26 minutes, Monty effectively gave the Grizzlies an extra defender for the majority of the game. None of this was more obvious than in the final several minutes of the game. Marc Gasol was able to play off the mountain of ineptitude and give help to anyone who came within 8 feet of the rim. When a Pelican was able to thread the ball to an open Steamer near the rim, he wasn't even able to catch it. Oh, and if you're wondering, Steimsma couldn't prevent Gasol from making an offensive impact, nor even keep Randolph off the offensive glass on a missed free throw. #MontyBall
- Opposing teams have learned to play Davis tough all over the floor, so it didn't come as a shock to see Joerger change things up. What was revealed tonight, was repulsive -- the Pelicans are infinitely reliant on dribble penetration. With Gordon and Evans sidelined due to illness, the offense sputtered and there appeared to be no play book to change our fortunes. No hitting Davis in the post against a smaller man in the post for a patented hook. No attempting to create space for Davis by running his man into a screen. No getting Davis to swing the ball out of a double team and around the perimeter for a wide open look. #MontyBall
- In the first half, the Pelicans speed carved up the Grizzlies. In the second half, Memphis went small and Monty failed to adjust. With one of Randolph/Gasol on the floor, it would have been worth a look to either go smaller and play Davis at center or give Jeff Withey some run alongside him. After all, Stiemsma wasn't making an impact on either side of the floor. Even if the offense (for whatever reason) hasn't been broadened to include plays for the issues seen tonight, creating chaos with our athleticism would have been the next best thing. Nope, Monty remained steadfast in his approach of shoving square pegs into round holes. Again. #MontyBall
- Due to the numerous failures of the coaching staff, it is difficult to talk about the positives. Austin Rivers, outside of two very poor passes, had a heck of game. Anthony Morrow, despite not finding the range, displayed excellent fortitude. Jeff Withey continued to show he is deserving of many more minutes. And Anthony Davis, we are so in love with you!
Tonight's game reinforced one thing: a new coach is needed. Monty William continues to prove he only knows how to operate within his system, one that is archaic and better suited to the rules of yesterday. This roster will never get a chance to grasp their potential, and Dell Demps realize his vision, if the status quo is maintained.