After an awful first quarter and being down 43-18 with C.J. McCollum having 22 points, with five made threes to boot, the Pelicans managed to claw back. In the 4th quarter, the Pelicans were down only 8 with 3:51 to go after Anthony Davis hit three straight threes and the Pelicans managed to actually get a few stops.
However the Trail Blazers held the Pelicans to just two points for the remainder of the game and won 112-94. Though New Orleans did lose the game by a solid margin of 18 points, they did find themselves for a few minutes there and hopefully will carry that over until they have a healthy roster.
*knocks on wood*
Portland is not perceived to be a good team by any stretch of the imagination, but the Pelicans are quite banged up. These first two games should give Pelicans' fans a bit of appreciation for a healthy Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter, and Omer Asik.
Though Holiday did play versus Portland, he was limited to 21 minutes (as we expected with Gentry's minute restriction) and failed to find a rhythm until late. However, Holiday showed flashes tonight as to why the Pelicans wanted him so badly. In back-to-back games, the Pelicans have given up 37 to McCollum and 40 to Stephen Curry.
Without Evans and an injured Holiday on a minute restriction, the Pelicans have had to start Nate Robinson and give significant minutes to Ish Smith (who has played well at times). The height advantage that Robinson surrenders and both their lack of defense has been detrimental.
Without Asik, the Pelicans are starting Kendrick Perkins and playing Davis at the five more than expected. This has resulted in a lack of rebounding and interior defense, as well as lineups including both Ryan Anderson and Alexis Ajinca (not good). In the first two games, the Pelicans have been out rebounded 56-33 and 51-39 partly because Asik isn't in the paint providing a big body to box out and deter guards from driving inside.
Holiday is expected to be on a minute restriction until January, Evans is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks, Pondexter has no timetable as to when he will return, and Asik is day-to-day with a strained calf. The Pelicans are going to look rough for the first two months of the season, but will hopefully experience some smooth sailing from January on.
*knocks on wood again*
As the title says, DO NOT FRET THE EARLY LOSSES! If the Pelicans are in within a few games of .500 come January and the Pelicans don't suffer any more injuries -- knocks through the wood -- they may still be in good shape to make the playoffs. With healthy starters and the so far solid additions of Ish Smith and Kendrick Perkins (sorry Krypto-Nate) providing some much-needed depth, the Pelicans can still be a force to reckon with come springtime.