Well the winning streak was fun while it lasted. The Pelicans’ season high 4 game winning streak came to a close to a Denver team that, coming in to tonight, had lost seven straight games. So, the fact that they lost tonight almost perfectly reflects this team’s season yeah?
Like in their first matchup in November, Denver received healthy contributions from just about everyone. Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic combined for 29 points, 16 rebounds 3 blocks and 3 assists while shooting a collective 65 percent from the floor. They didn’t out-rebound Asik and Davis, who combined for 24 boards, but scoring wise, they claimed a slight edge (29 to 28). Wilson Chandler wasn’t the nuisance that he was in the first game (18 points), but he had a solid night nonetheless: 9 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in only 28 minutes. Ty Lawson had a rough go of things from a shooting perspective (2-12), but he compensated by getting his teammates involved dishing out 13 assists. Lawson’s assist to turnover ratio for the night was 13:1. That’s pretty efficient, don’t you think?
The story for Denver tonight was Aaron Afflalo and Danilo Gallinari making hay from beyond the arc. Of Afflalo’s team high 20 points, 12 came from three; similarly, the three point shot accounted for nine of Gallanari’s 11 points. The two combined to shoot 7-12 from three, and as a team, Denver connected on nearly 59 percent of their three point shots (10-17). Remember, this is a Denver team that is 26th in three point field goal percentage, so of course in their two games against the Pelicans, the Nuggets have shot 51 percent. Because…reasons? Who knows anymore?
BUT JAVALE MCGEE WAS HELD SCORELESS YEAH KEYS TO VICTO- wait what do you mean he was a "Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision?" Ah. Well, I feel silly now.
Where Have I Seen this Before…?
Like we saw in the games at Philadelphia, Boston and New York, the Pelicans dug themselves an early hole in the first quarter and had to fight like hell the rest of the way to have a chance at winning the game. They were able to tie it up heading into the fourth quarter, thanks in large part to Tyreke Evans scoring 15 of his 25 points in the third frame. Then the fourth quarter happened and…yeah. The Pels got to within one, 86-85, but couldn’t stop Denver from going on a Mortal Kombat-esque FINISH HIM 7-0 run to close the game out. Final score 93-85. Thanks for playing.
Ice Cold Offense
So, what went wrong for the Pelicans tonight? Well the ball movement was pretty porous. As a team, New Orleans only had 15 assists. Remember Ty Lawson almost out-assisted New Orleans by himself (15 to 13). Tyreke Evans, fresh off a 12 assist night against Philadelphia, only registered two assists tonight. I’m certainly not trying to indict the man, especially after he carried the team in the third quarter, but the facts are the facts and a lot of it had to do with the following...
New Orleans had a rough night shooting. The team shot 39 percent overall and a paltry 20 percent from three. They made 40% of their uncontested looks and 38% contested. Denver fared much better in all of these departments. Yeesh.
Eric Gordon closed the game hitting four of his last six shots, which sounds nice, until you remember he started tonight’s contest 0-9, so you get sad again. Ryan Anderson essentially repeated his performance from the first time around: 11 points but five came from the free throw line and he shot 3-10 from the floor and failed to make a single three. So the combination of not hitting shots and not moving the ball proved to be an unfavorable one. Who would’ve guessed?
The bench play was pretty lopsided in Denver’s favor as well. The five Nuggets coming off the bench (Gallinari, Hickson, Arthur, Foye and Nelson) scored 30 points. The four Pelican bench players (Anderson, Wolters, Jimmer and Pondexter) scored 15 and two didn’t even score a point. The lack of depth aided in New Orleans’ destruction tonight.
But Wait, it Gets Worse
Do you feel thoroughly depressed yet? Because we still haven’t even gotten to Anthony Davis pulling his groin yet. I repeat: ANTHONY DAVIS PULLED HIS GROIN PEOPLE. CODE RED CODE RED!!!!! AM I YELLING I THINK I AM SORRY I’M JUST PANICKING OKAY????
The good news, if there’s any good news to a pulled groin and impending MRI, is that Davis was able to pull a Willis Reed and returned to the game. That in itself was surprising and scary at the same time because, while it was nice seeing him back out there, it was terrifying seeing him in that state. Monty Williams used the word laboring and that’s an accurate word choice. Davis was pushing himself to be back out there even though it looked like he was on the verge of collapsing again if he stepped the wrong way.
The Long Road Ahead
The Pelicans have a brutal five game stretch coming up and they desperately need good news about Davis’ groin. New Orleans has the Clippers, Hawks a home-and-home with the Thunder and then the Bulls. That schedule was daunting enough with Davis. Without him well…let’s just hope he’s okay.
The Pelicans lost a game to an inferior opponent and that’s the bad news. Even worse is that they may have lost their star for an indefinite amount of time.