This is the hardest lead I've ever had to come up with because at this point I just don't know what to say anymore.
The Pelicans recorded 21 steals tonight which is both a new franchise record and an NBA season-high this year and still lost. They forced 24 total turnovers and held the No. 4 three point shooting team to hit on five of their 21 attempts from beyond the arc and still lost. They allowed only 16 points and led by 14 after the first quarter. And. Still. Lost.
It's somehow surprising that the team with the fourth-worst record in the league keeps finding new ways to lose but here we are once again. The Pelicans scored 30 points in the first quarter and 27 in the third, but combined for 29 in the second and fourth. On a night where the Pelicans played well enough defensively to win, the offense failed to get the job done. Fortunately we're in Louisiana and we've seen a lot of LSU football teams do that in recent years.
The Pelicans' first quarter was a total hoax. After "jet fuel can't melt steel beams" and Stevie Wonder being blind the biggest lie in our society is the Pelicans' performance after the opening 12 minutes of action. New Orleans led 30-16 and shot 54.6 percent from the floor in the first quarter; for the remaining 36 minutes of action the team shot 31 percent. The offense couldn't have fallen off a cliff faster than if it was wearing cinder blocks. Take a gander at these shooting lines and see if you don't get a migraine:
- Eric Gordon 3-11
- Ryan Anderson 7-17
- Norris Cole 1-9
Altogether that's a combined 11-37, 29.7 percent clunker from three key contributors. Part of the Pelicans' offensive woes were just taking terrible shots that couldn't have gone in even if one could defy gravity. Norris Cole's shot chart has all the accuracy of a typical game of Battleship: miss after miss after miss. I guess I appreciate the effort but there has to be a point where you know it's not your night and you try to be effective through other means besides shooting.
Then there's the fact that Anthony Davis, once again, had to leave a game early because of an injury. This time it was a back contusion suffered three minutes into the first quarter after Davis landed on a chair chasing down a loose ball. Davis' absence left New Orleans with a very slight presence down low and it was the catalyst for settling for all of those jump shots in the closing minutes of the second and fourth quarters. Davis' back contusion is yet another ding on his young, 22-year-old body. Maybe the Pelicans pull a '96 Spurs and have Davis sit out longer than what's really needed to improve their chances of landing Ben Simmons?
I think all the losing has made me numb, but I'm starting to become indifferent with whatever the front office or coaching staff has planned going forward. You want to blow up the roster and dump Anderson, Evans, Gordon...really anyone not named Anthony Davis, fine. You want to milk this Anthony Davis back contusion for all it's worth go ahead. But whatever you decide to do, I hope you do it quick because this current on the court product is getting harder and harder to watch.
Tyreke Evans was the best player on the floor tonight and it's a shame his efforts weren't rewarded with a win. Evans had 27 points, including 16 in the third, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. I still don't know what the right thing to do with Tyreke Evans is, but I really do enjoy watching this guy play like that.
While not doing much scoring, Alexis Ajinca was able to find other ways to be productive for New Orleans. Ajinca had 12 rebounds, three assists, five steals and a block all in 26 minutes.
Evans and Ajinca combined for 19 of the Pelicans' 37 rebounds. That's slightly more than half of the teams' rebounding numbers coming from two guys so is it a surprise in any way at all that New Orleans got clowned in that department? Indiana finished with 17 more rebounds than New Orleans. That'll happen when Anthony Davis goes out three minutes in and Omer Asik only plays 16 minutes. For reference Indiana had more defensive rebounds, 40, than New Orleans did total.
Paul George had a down night thanks in large part to some good defense by Jrue Holiday. George had 13 points on 3-13 shooting. Ian Mahimi was able to compensate for George with a 17 point, 10 rebound, five block night in only 25 minutes.
I'm not sure how they pulled it off, but New Orleans only managed to get 10 points off those 24 Indiana turnovers. I know what you're wondering: did Indiana outscore New Orleans in that category even with the Pelicans having fewer turnovers? You bet they did! The Pacers were +8 in points off turnovers despite having eight more than New Orleans. How.
We need to talk about Eric Gordon's three point "attempt" at tying the game. Umm...I'm not sure how he did it, but...the shot went straight up or something. It's actually incredible. Really avant garde stuff from Gordon there. He may as well have tried to throw a paper airplane through the hoop if he was going to do that. Wow.