After loads of evidence, Monty Williams wised up and started Brian Roberts, Tyreke Evans, Al-Farouq Aminu, Anthony Davis, and Greg Stiemsma. This lineup, in just 24 minutes together, has amassed a Net Rating of negative 42.2. It is terrible on offense (91.6 Net Rating) and terrible on defense (133.7 Net Rating). It rebounds terribly, collecting only 31.6% of misses while also committing a foul every 45 seconds. It shoots just 42% from the field and attempts threes on just 10.5% of all attempts. If there is a single thing this lineup is not terrible at, I must have missed it.
Insert "Unholy Trio" rant here. Monty's inability to understand how the various pieces of his roster interact is beyond infuriating at this point. He wanted to win with defense and the result was giving up 137 points. If a coach is a defensive guru and is unable to coach defense...
Despite the disadvantage created, the Nuggets kept the Pelicans in the game during the first seven minutes of the game. However, Denver got into a groove over the last five minutes and stretched a 3 point lead to 16 by the end of the first quarter. Layups, threes, and foul shots are the most valuable shots in the NBA. After Anthony Davis left the game with his second foul, Denver scored 19 of their 21 points from the green triangle.
The second quarter was hideous. Ty Lawson and Aaron Brooks were attacking the paint at will. Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans had minor twists in the quarter and looked hobbled. Monty Williams called a timeout to end a potential 2-on-2 Pelican fast break with Tyreke and AD attacking (seriously, this happened, I couldn't believe it). Layups, three point shots, and free throws again for the Nuggets. Anthony Davis hardly played and we found out during halftime that AD was doubtful to return with back spasms:
The Pelicans, now without their superstar, started Roberts, Evans, Aminu, Withey, and Stiemsma. Two seven footers on the court. Another effort at rim protection, right? The Nuggets scored on their first three possessions. Two dunks and a layup. The Pelican attempt to defend the rim with size was completely ineffective in the first half; so Monty in true Monty fashion kept at the same old thing anyway. Could he have gone small and tried to switch ball screens to try a different tact? Of course! But then the Pelicans would lose the "wrong" way instead of trying #MontyBall and lose the "right" way.
Denver did not make a mid range jump shot in the third quarter. They also attempted just two.
The fourth quarter took too long.
- AD's back spasms is a new thing. Hopefully it is not a sign of anything more serious.
- The team just lacked competitive fire tonight. That is also a new thing for which I have no explanation. Elevation? Poor pre-game meal?
- Tyreke was efficient but lacked some bounce throughout. Guarded by much smaller men, Evans took advantage getting into the paint and to the foul line a lot. 27 points on 17 shots is good, but the game was hardly competitive most of the night.
The Pelicans travel to Salt Lake City to play the Utah Jazz on Friday. Again, it will be a late start at 8pm local time on Fox Sports New Orleans. After a three game losing streak, the Pelicans have slipped from 12th to 10th in the lottery, but lie just a half game behind Atlanta for 11th. Even a full blown commitment to tanking likely would only ensure the Pelicans a 6% chance of landing in the top three (9th in the lottery if Cleveland could pass New Orleans) and keeping their pick this summer.