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Game Recap: Darn You, Kemba Walker. Pelicans Fall to Hornets 98-94

The Pelicans struggle in the second half and Kemba Walker delivers another dagger as the Pelicans fall under .500

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Kemba Walker converts on an old fashioned three-point play with 1.4 left to play to give the Charlotte Hornets a 98-94 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 32 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Jrue Holiday finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and nine assists.

Here is my sequence of notes at the end of the game:

  • Jrue Holiday airball a three down 90/84 with 3:00 minutes left
  • Pelicans went on a 8-0 run to take 92-90 lead
  • Kemba, damn you, step back, damn.
  • Damn you, Kemba, damn.
  • Go to Anthony Davis.
  • Go to Anthony Davis.
  • Go to Anthony Davis.
  • DAVIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 18.6 might be too much time for Kemba.
  • Davis on Kemba? Jrue on Kemba? Yea, Jrue on Kemba.

This was a weird game. I wasn’t a fan of New Orleans’ offense, but they were shooting 47% going into the second half, and 45% going into the fourth quarter. They were even shooting 40% from three. I said to myself "Man, Charlotte really isn’t doing much here," and the Hornets shot 60% from the field in the third quarter and Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker combined to shoot 8-11 from the floor.

Offenisively, the team didn't do a great job. The offense wasn't terrible, but it wasn't their most creative offensive performance. Eric Gordon stood out for me as I continue to watch him off this injury, and of course, Anthony Davis did his thing. Other than that? Tyreke Evans didn't have a great game, Ryan Anderson struggled to get anything going, and Jrue Holiday stood out to me for his passing and ball movement more than his scoring acumen.

The Pelicans defense completely broke down in the second half. The previously mentioned Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker combined for 27 points and five assists in the second half. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did an excellent job on Tyreke Evans defensively, while chipping in with eight points and nine rebounds. Even Jason Maxiell got a cup of coffee and had a solid run.

The biggest issue for me with New Orleans is that the bench failed to do much of anything. Dante Cunningham hit a long two-point shot and that was it; Ryan Anderson couldn’t put together a good game; I’m fine with Jimmer's production (but it isn’t great); and someone needs to tell Monty to stop playing his fifth best big man over his fourth, Jeff Withey. New Orleans’ bench combined for 16 points, while Charlotte’s bench produced 19 from Maxiell and Brian Roberts alone and 27 overall.

There was no excuse for the Pelicans to lose this game. If New Orleans wants to be regarded as a contender for that final playoff spot, you come into this game and beat the Hornets. Plain and simple. This was a disappointing loss here, but like I said in the preview, this is a small run of games for the Pelicans to feast on. This is a small step backwards, but once the staff goes through the film and sees the mistakes, it could lead to a nice run. Let’s go to some notes.

Game Notes

- Eric Gordon had 14 points (on 6-13 from the floor) and four assists. Some of his shots were flat, but he did what New Orleans needed: moved the ball and hit some shots, including three from beyond the arc. We’re all good here. I like what I’m seeing from EG coming off the injury.

- I'll continue to say this: man do we need to push the pace for Jrue Holiday. That guy is good, but he might be great. I'm tired of seeing him stand on one side of the court as Evans does his thing and I'm tired of him in this rather slow offense. This team should be running and gunning, and I don't understand why we don't. I mean, I do, but I don't.

- Anthony Davis gets a halo. 32 points, 12 rebounds, blocked a couple shots, altered a bunch, and made a tough game-tying layup at the end of the game.

Random Musings

I don’t understand the Alexis Ajncia thing, and it’s bothering me a bit. Withey gives the Pelicans a better player, but also, someone who can alter shots at the rim. He’s 24 years old, and had numerous moments in the past where he played well. I’m not saying give him 35 minutes and run wild, but he should be playing A) more minutes than Ajinca and B) at least 15 minutes per game.

I’m suggesting that the Pelicans go snag Glen Rice Jr. off waivers. He’s 6-6, has some upside, and I think the biggest need for this team is another wing off the bench. It's not another attack on Rivers and Jimmer, but hey, let's add some more talent to the wing position. He's pretty young, too. Since the Pelicans have that last roster spot, why not take a chance on someone like Rice?

I’ll do one better. Pelicans acquire Jose Calderon from New York for Austin Rivers, John Salmons, and Luke Babbitt. It would give the Pelicans a backup point guard who can hit some threes, or you can run some Calderon, Holiday, Evans and have some shooters around Davis. You give up nothing in this deal, considering you decline to pick up Rivers' option earlier in the year. You give up some future cap space, but you get a solid rotation player and backup guard for the roster.

Play the nine, Monty. Play the Nine.