For once in a really really long time, Anthony Davis didn't begin the game with the Pelicans first shot attempt. Nor the second one. Rather, Eric Gordon started off as the aggressor by attempting the first two shots, and soon thereafter, Jrue Holiday took over by scoring 8 of the Pelicans first 14 points.
Meanwhile, the usually steady AD had 2 turnovers quickly and didn't manage to notch a single point in the 1st quarter. Tyreke Evans, demoted to the bench in favor of Gordon and Luke Babbitt, picked up two quick turnovers but did settle down and helped the Pelicans to avoid a bigger deficit than four points at the end of the 1st quarter.
New Orleans started off the 2nd quarter by getting Jimmer Fredette a nice look from midrange...but he missed it. The team would proceed to miss a few more and watched the Wizards score the first six points to take a 10 point lead with 8:51 remaining in the frame. The Pelicans would make several runs, but come halftime, they trailed 52-44.
The Wizards had very little problems executing their offense as indicated by a 56.4 FG% and a 5 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. Concurrently, the Pelicans were the polar opposite: a 41.0 FG% (just 2 of 10 from deep) and a TOV/AST ratio of 1:1. OUCH. The fact Davis only had 4 points, on three meager attempts (a total of 10 attempts in the Pelicans last 72 minutes!!!), the Pelicans should have been happy they were not down by serious double-digits at intermission.
The second half began with Evans replacing Babbitt in the starting lineup. However, soon after splashing a wide open 3 pointer from Holiday, Tyreke picked up a questionable 3rd charging offensive foul. With 5:16 to play, the Pelicans found themselves down 10 after a timeout. They started making jumpshots, led by Davis and Evans, but couldn't chip into the Wizards lead until the final few minutes of the frame. Their persistence, and 20 combined points in the 3rd quarter, found the Pelicans just 5 with 12 minutes to go.
Unfortunately, the 4th quarter saw the Wizards' bench blitz ours. In particular, 38 year old Andre Miller became a huge thorn by either scoring or assisting on 10 straight Washington points. At the 5:48 mark, the Pelicans took a timeout in an attempt to figure out their last plan of action down 7 points. Too bad it was already predetermined to be all for not.
Right before that timeout, the referee's whistle missed Nene holding Holiday from getting a steal and then managed to call Holiday for a foul when John Wall jumped into him in transition. Then, there was a missed over and back call. To top it off, Anthony Davis slammed home the Pelicans final points on the night, but not before he got fouled like 3 times on that single attempt.
At the very worst, the Pelicans should have probably be looking at a 3 point deficit with 30 seconds to go. At best, a few more correct calls puts this game in complete doubt, despite the poor shooting, high amount of turnovers and nonsensical Monty rotations.
Cue some nasty slurs in your favorite language.
- At halftime, Anthony Davis had a total of 11 points in his last 6 quarters of play. In the third quarter, he had 11 points alone. Yeah, the defenses have been knocking or holding AD around, but it's criminal the team doesn't look or find a way more often. I can think of at least several plays where AD had a mismatch but the team failed to even try and get him the ball. Good teams nearly always take advantage of imbalances -- another sign we're not there...yet.
- Tyreke Evans started off the game slowly, with two quick turnovers and a couple of offensive fouls in the first half. Similar to last season, he doesn't seem to perform well as reserve. Granted he was ill coming into this one, but hopefully Monty won't try this again anytime soon. If he wants to keep Babbitt's shooting on the floor and some punch of the bench, why can't we get a look at Eric Gordon in the reserve role?
- Speaking of Gordon, he started fast but utimately didn't have much of an effect on the game outside of several solid assists: 6 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. To be expected, his shot was off, but he should be given a reprieve of at least 5 games before rushing to any longer term judgments.
- Jrue Holiday was the only firecracker in the 1st quarter but he went relatively silent for the rest of the game. Much like when Gordon and Evans have been healthy alongside him, the disappearances need to stop. He IS an All-Star caliber point guard, so it's time he start playing like one, no matter who stands alongside of him.
- Ryan Anderson scored 10 of his 14 points in the 4th quarter, including all 3 of his made three pointers. Sadly though, I was itching for more Omer Asik as Andre Miller abused us in the post area and the Wizards had a number of timely offensive rebounds.
- With the return of Eric Gordon, Monty didn't play Austin Rivers, Alexis Ajinca nor Jeff Withey in the first half. Yep, he went to a 9 man rotation that included Jimmer Fredette. Conversely in the 2nd half, Evans replaced Luke Babbitt in the starting lineup, Jimmer sat and Rivers + Ajinca made appearances. Monty's rotations were a mess and he seemed to be grasping at straws the whole game.
- Speaking of Monty, I think a number of us can recall very clearly about him lamenting over our lack of size against the Nenes and Al Jefferson's of the world. Welp, tonight in the 4th quarter, while the Wizards were gobbling up offensive rebounds, Asik stared out onto the court as an onlooker.
- Speaking of Monty Part Deux, the Pelicans were abused on their home court with a slew of bad calls. Couldn't you pick up just one technical? The crowd had awoken in the 3rd quarter and showing that fight could have very well changed the outcome of a lot of those late 4th quarter whistles.
There were a whole lot of things at play tonight that led to New Orleans loss. The return of Eric Gordon hurt the rotations and the team's overall performance as he was obviously rusty. Monty was unable to make a positive impression with his decision-making. The referees failed to acknowledge a number of Wizard violations.
Lastly, and worst of all, the Pelicans played too much uninspired basketball. For the 2nd time this season, the Wizards out-rebounded, scored more points in the paint and had more fastbreak points. Conversely, New Orleans offense was sloppy again. In our November 29th match-up, the Pelicans had 12 assists and 12 turnovers. Tonight, 19 assists and 18 turnovers. The defense was soft and full of holes in both games as the Wizards shot over 46% from the floor.
Win one, lose one -- that's the current pattern the Pelicans are stuck on. Up next, the Pelicans will play the Hornets in Charlotte on Wednesday. Hopefully, that game will see the start of plenty more wins than losses.