The returns of Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole were diminished with their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last night. Following an offensive outburst in the first quarter, the Pelicans lost their way while Marc Gasol tore through everyone who attempted to slow him down. The net result: New Orleans third straight loss and a date with the Houston Rockets on the second night of a back-to-back.
It's difficult to remain level-headed with a team that sits 4-14 and has the worst defensive rating in the league by a noticeable margin; however, that's where we're at. Injuries have marred the results, but the jury remains out as to what the new expectations should be. Omer Asik has been completely unplayable, the new rotations, at the very least, need time and the Pelicans have got to do a better job with consistency.
Perhaps a date in Houston could be the start of another positive streak. The Rockets have been another major early season disappointment with an inferior defense and an underperforming offense. Kevin McHale has already been fired, but the move has failed to ignite the squad. James Hardens' effort on both sides of the floor is questioned once again, Ty Lawson has not rediscovered his old magic and Dwight Howard is not the same player from just several years ago.
3 Keys to Victory
- Make Shots. Yesterday, David pointed out that the offense is functioning well, but the results have been subpar. They're simply missing too many attempts. Based on past history, the roster should be more efficient. Certainly stronger than a 39% uncontested field goal percentage they showed against the Grizzles. The Pelicans are 4-2 when they outshoot their opponents.
- Rebound on both ends. The Grizzlies grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and that really changed the momentum of the game. When the Pelicans have failed to control the defensive glass, they have lost the game every time (0-12). Simply math proves they're 4-1 when they have won this decisive battle.
- Keep the 3-point battle close. It's no secret, the Rockets like to shoot three-pointers (their 31.1 attempts lead the league). The Pelicans give up a league worst 42.5% from above the break. The combination could spell doom so let's hope the game plan saves the day.
The keys to victory have gotten rather simplistic, but the Pelicans are bad in so many areas right now. They need to start with the basics, regardless of the opponent. Make more shots than your opponent, rebound misses and don't give up easy looks. Sounds easy but New Orleans has rarely been able to accomplish this task through the first 18 games.
Geaux Pelicans, pretty please?