The New Orleans Pelicans fell to 1-11 with an 110-103 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook scored 43 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Thunder while Ryan Anderson led the Pelicans with 30 points and added seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals to a season-high in points.
First, holy shot attempts, Batman. 95 shot attempts for New Orleans in a back and forth game. I liked it. No Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis, I didn't like. Still, I think it's fine to both be sad that they lost and be optimistic that they kept it close. I was a bit nervous that we'd get a game similar to Toronto, but that was swatted down in an instance with four starters scoring at least 12 points.
The two big differences was with threes and free throws. After a few good games of success with the deep ball, New Orleans struggled to hit threes, going 8-32 against Oklahoma City. Ryan Anderson hit four of his 10 threes, but Eric Gordon only knock down one of his nine attempts and Luke Babbitt hit just one of his four threes.
The Pelicans had nine free throws all game, compared to Oklahoma City's 40 attempts. Kanter and Westbrook combined for 32 of those 40 attempts. Westbrook barrelled his way to the line and attacked New Orleans' guards, leaving the forwards with no other choice but to contest while out of position.
But there was no answer for one Russell Westbrook. He did whatever he wanted to do. Jumpers, he made them. Steal and turning it into a dunk? Did it. Effortlessly penetrating through the line for an easy layup at the basket? Check. Westbrook was the first, second and third option in that first unit and outside of Enes Kanter, Westbrook was a one-man show on the offensive end.
And the aforementioned Enes Kanter brought it, scoring 24 points on 8-15 shooting and 14 rebounds. He did a ton of work on the offensive end, providing his classic, low-post offense, while not doing much on the defensive end. With the Pelicans with just one legitimate center in Alexis Ajinca, Kanter was able to attack and put together an efficient offensive game.
In total, it was a tough loss, but with the way the season is going, that might be a good thing. Let's take it to the game notes.
Ryan Anderson continues his good play with back-to-back performances. He's playing well, shooting well in the midrange, completed a few tough finishes at the rim, rebounding well and has provided New Orleans with another scorer next to Eric Gordon with Anthony Davis out. Wonder what he can get back in a trade.
Dante Cunningham finished with nine points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and six fouls. His energy always stands out on this Pelicans team when he's on the floor. Decent defensively, but not good enough offensively to play much. If he had a three-ball, he'd be awesome.
Alexis Ajinca was a victim of Enes Kanter's productive night, but he had a solid night of his own, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds. 23 minutes sounds about right for him, too, maybe a smidge less. Let's make this permanent, Alvin.
Ish Smith took 20 shots (What a time to be alive), which really shows how bad New Orleans' injuries are. Still, Smith had 18 points, three rebounds and six assists, including a nifty little finish in the first. The Ish Smith love continues.
- New Orleans' schedule moving forward (till 12/25): San Antonio, Phoenix, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Utah, Memphis, Houston, Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Chicago, Portland, Utah, Phoenix, Denver, Portland, and Miami.