For a split second, I thought the Pelicans were going to pull it out in the fourth. They were electric in transition, moving the ball offensively and Anthony Davis, who was magma in the second half, was getting the ball and either getting to the line or finding someone to reinitiate the offense, usually resulting in a better shot.
It's frustrating, falling to 0-5 on the regular season. However, the Pelicans looked much better than they did in their previous tilts, winning three of the four quarters. Offensively, there were several things to be excited about. New Orleans was able to attack the basket, and on multiple occasions, Eric Gordon and Ish Smith were able to penetrate and pull Atlanta defenders in for some delightful threes for Ryan Anderson and Luke Babbitt.
On the other side of the floor, it was a rough day for the Pelicans, especially the second quarter.
The Hawks carved up New Orleans' defense to the tune of 53.2% shooting. It seemed like whenever Atlanta needed a basket, they could find one, thanks to a mental lapse by the Pelicans. Both Al Horford and Paul Millsap got two buckets a piece by simply ducking to the block and waiting for a New Orleans big to move up to cut off the pick and roll, leaving them for an easy layup.
And the combination of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder also put the hurt on the New Orleans defense. Schroder attacked New Orleans at their weakest, getting three of his threes to fall and finishing on a couple shots at the rim. Teague did more damage, however, as his aggressive nature offensively resulted in 10 free throw attempts. Teague didn't have it in this game, but his ability to slash and attack the rim allowed him to recover for a decent performance.
And lastly, Kyle Korver had a game finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, 8-8 from the floor, 4-4 from three, 11.5 usage and a +16. New Orleans truly had no answer for Korver, offensively, he was a force, just by being a magnet. The Pelicans kept tabs on where Korver was on the floor, and yet, he still found him way to some open threes. Korver mixed in his passing with some nice passes off of drives and one nice play where he caught NO's defense sleeping on an inbound play.
It was a tough loss, but the Pelicans never gave up, made it a fight late and came away with some positives. Let's talk about them in the notes.
- Anthony Davis looked unstoppable in the second half. He did some really good work in the third quarter, scoring 16 points and playing some really good defense. I thought he was good defensively as an agitator in the middle of the floor. He really disrupted some of Atlanta's plays with his size and wingspan. Hopefully this can quell some of the talk about his performances on the season, as well as be a stepping stone to a productive campaign.
- Ish Smith does this every time. He didn't shoot well, but man did he look good operating the offense. Smith finished with 11 assists and three secondary assists. At times, he was over-passing, but he's a jolt off the bench with his passing ability. He was bad defensively and his shot wasn't falling, but like he does in all of his stops, he has a way of making an impression on you.
- Eric Gordon also played well: 22 points and 3-7 from beyond the arc, with two assists and steals. Atlanta did a good job of defending him, sending a wave of Korver, Kent Bazemore and Justin Holiday. Still, Gordon played well with Smith, and as a result, got a bunch of uncontested shots, 11 to be exact. It was a solid offensive performance, lackluster defensive performance for Gordon.
- After Davis, Gordon and, with a hint of bias, Smith, the Pelicans didn't play that well offensively. Ryan Anderson impressed me more with his passing (four assists) and the way he played against Millsap and Horford on the boards than his offense. He's getting some quality -- for him -- shots, but they're not falling. His time will come, I think.
- Jrue Holiday took two shots and had eight assists (great) to seven turnovers (not great) and Luke Babbitt shot 50%, while somehow missing five of his six three-point attempts.
- It was a frustrating night for Alvin Gentry. The Pelicans head coach was visibly upset on a handful of calls. The non-flagrant call for Eric Gordon was probably the right call, as Millsap went down for the ball, but didn't completely put his hands around his neck like Alexis Ajinca did Bazemore early in the game. The one error he had a valid reason for anger was when Jeff Teague shot the ball off the camera behind the backboard in the fourth quarter (hey THAT'S out-of-bounds), got it back and drew a foul. Because it wasn't in the final two minutes (2:22 on the clock to be exact), the play wasn't reviewable.
Progress was made, which is the next step towards notching that first victory. The offense looked good against a solid and experienced Atlanta defense. Anthony Davis had a great game and Eric Gordon looked good. As the score would suggest, it was a few plays here and there that was the difference. Hopefully, the Pelicans can get the break next time.