Slow defensive rotations, a lot of CJ McCollum, and the Pelicans find itself winless after the first two games to start the NBA season. Adding the first victory to the win column might have to wait awhile too with the Golden State Warriors on tap for this coming Saturday in New Orleans.
McCollum did his best Stephen Curry impersonation early, scoring 28 points in the first half, 22 of which came in the first. Meanwhile Anthony Davis continued to struggle from the field, clinking mid-range jumpers off the rim which led to fast break after fast break for the Blazers.
With the urgency of Ryan Anderson's spark off the bench, the Pelicans attempted to claw its way back in the second quarter, as Anderson hit three quick three-pointers to start the quarter. Anderson scored 13 points off 50 percent shooting and snagged four boards in the first half. However, it was not to be.
Pelicans down 70-43 at halftime. Blazers shooting 54%/Pelicans 31.3%. Blazers starting backcourt with 45 points to Pelicans 12. #UmYeah— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) October 29, 2015
All facets of the defense looked flat early. Pelican players missed switch assignments frequently, couldn't finish possessions with defensive rebounds, and like Tuesday night in Oracle, couldn't pressure three-point shooters.
According to the #Pelicans players, they only have 3 defensive play calls this season. Looks like those 3 are "Crap", " Damn ", & " Nooooo!"— Mason Ginsberg (@MasonGinsberg) October 29, 2015
It was evident from the start that the Pelicans missed its defensive ace Omer Asik, as he's recovering from a strained calf. Portland out-rebounded New Orleans 33-20 in the first half, and eventually 51-39. The awful rebounding disparities have to come to a stop soon; otherwise, the Pelicans will have trouble beating any level of competition in the NBA.
Despite the abundance of negatives, the team showed some poise in the second half, cutting the 27-point halftime lead to 20 at the end of the third quarter. Anthony Davis finally broke out of his shooting slump in the fourth quarter, nailing three straight buckets to cut the Blazer lead to 11 with 6:18 left in the fourth quarter.
An Anderson fadeaway jumper followed by Davis' third-straight-make from behind the arc cut the Rip City lead to single digits with 3:52 minutes left to go in the fourth quarter. Trailing 100-92, the stage was set for a potential comeback.
The Pelicans outscored the Blazers 51-30 after the Davis triple, but fittingly, McCollum closed the game out with two back-to-back jumpers. It extended the lead to a comfortable 15-point margin with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter, and the Blazer's eventually took it, 112-92. McCollum finished the game with a career and game high 37 points.
Both Anderson and Eric Gordon finished with 21 and 20 points, respectively, but Davis finished as the highest scorer and recorded his first double-double of the season, with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Ish Smith moved ahead of Nate Robinson (4 minutes) on the depth chart, but he wasn't nearly as spectacular as yesterday. In 29 minutes of action, he connected on just 3 of his 14 attempts from the floor. It's a bit troubling to see the newest member of the team with the third most field goal attempts in the game, ahead of an offensive stalwart like Gordon.
After a solid game against the Warriors, Alonzo Gee managed to compile a -30 +/- in just 18 minutes of action. On the flip side, Dante Cunningham failed to score but posted a team-high +9. His calling card -- defense -- shined brightly, and his work in the 3rd quarter greatly aided the Pelicans comeback attempt.
The Pelicans get to redeem itself in a quick rematch against the Warriors at The Smoothie King Center in a few days. Maybe a little home cooking is what these birds need to go along with plenty of high-flying action by the Brow?