The New Orleans Pelicans were demolished by the San Antonio Spurs, 98-79. After scoring 95 points in his first two games, Anthony Davis managed a very human-like 18 points on 15 shots. The lone offensive bright spot was E’Twaun Moore as he regained his shooting touch, scoring 18 points on 8-13 from the field.
For the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard was the leading man with a 20 point, 4 rebound, 3 assist and 2 steal line. Patty Mills, who was largely responsible for building the early lead in the first half, added 18 points.
On the second night of an away back-to-back, this shorthanded Pelicans squad entered the game already well behind the eight-ball, but when the opponent sitting on the other side of the floor is the Spurs, the epitaph should have been written before tip-off.
In the opening moments, nothing came easily for the Pelicans. Worse, Anthony Davis didn’t get the appropriate amount of touches. In the first quarter, he totaled just 4 shot attempts and finished with a mere 6 points.
The Spurs also capitalized on all of the early mistakes by New Orleans. The Pelicans first 5 turnovers resulted in 10 points — the difference on the scoreboard at halftime — and finished the game with 19 points on 10 turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans defense, which actually started strongly, started springing leaks towards the end of the first 12 minutes, and they grew significantly larger as the game progressed. Here, have a look at how easily Leonard got to the rim on the following play, right past two of the best defenders on the team in Davis and Hill.
After halftime, things grew exponentially worse. The Spurs offense had a number of wide open looks and the Pelicans aggressiveness completely vanished. The result was a 28-15 whipping, setting the stage for a garbage-laden fourth quarter.
In his post-game comments, Alvin Gentry commented, “I thought we competed hard in the first half. The one thing we talked about: you can’t turn the ball over against this team. We did a fairly good job of protecting the ball; we had only 7 turnovers, but those 7 turnovers turned into 15 points.”
As mentioned, the Pelicans finished with a very reasonable 10 turnovers, but there were numerous other mistakes the team made that just can’t happen against championship-caliber teams. Gentry alluded to this and mentioned that he thought Mills three-pointer to conclude the first half was a big momentum changer.
Moore failed to recognize the amount of time on the clock and ended up allowing a free three-point look to a deadly shooter. Gentry is right, stuff like this will not help the Pelicans win ballgames, but I must mention that I thought he was a little too abrupt towards the end of his interview.
“We’ve got to continue to work. We’ve played 3 games; we’ve got 79 left. And so contrary to what everyone believes, our season is not over yet.”
Honestly, entering tonight’s game, I believe the Pelicans fanbase has been rather understanding in the team’s plight: two stars sit on the sidelines, a lot of the new guys are struggling and the team needs sufficient time to gel. I’m sure his comments were directed more at national media, perhaps for all the recent mentions that Anthony Davis has no help, but I just didn’t care for his tone. There was no need to get testy with any of the media in front of him — they were only asking logical questions about an 0-3 team.
It’s just much too early in the season for a disgruntled Gentry. The effort levels, on the whole, have been really good, and I assume the team isn’t suffering yet from any locker room problems. We all get that the Pelicans just finished their third game in four nights, including one of the harshest possible opponent combinations of a back-to-back.
Oh well, maybe the team can flip the script next Tuesday when the Milwaukee Bucks come to town. Alvin looks like he needs a win more than the rest of us!