Before we start: Buddy Hield made his first NBA three-point shot!
Now back to the grim reality: The New Orleans Pelicans fell to the Milwaukee Bucks, 117-113, at the Smoothie King Arena on Monday night, breaking a 14-game home winning streak against the once favorable opponent.
After getting off to a hot shooting start, the Pels struggled in the middle of the game, falling behind by as many as 12. Even Anthony Davis struggled somewhat from the field, making “just” 9 of 21 shots -- he did have the floater going tonight but missed all 3 of his three-point attempts (Davis and Hield are a combined 2-of-21 from 3s this season, BTW). Mostly, Davis lived at the line, making 17-of-18(!) free throws. The guy is incredible: he had 35 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks/steals.
The Pelicans started Dante Cunningham in favor of Omer Asik, surely to match the Bucks’ starting frontline of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Miles Plumlee — Omer Asik wasn’t going to keep up against any of those guys and was probably headed for foul trouble before the game even started (right?).
Well, Cunningham responded by going 1-of-9 from the field with five rebounds and a team-worst -16 +/- in 38(!) minutes. It was not good. Giannis and Jabari had 24 (10 rebounds, 7 assists) and 21 points, respectively. It’s interesting how the same, yet different those two Bucks are: neither really wants to shoot 3s and both are super aggressive, ball-handling, attacking wings. But their games look nothing alike. Jabari has super quick, short, powerful jabs and side-steps which let him get going downhill quickly in isolations where he likes to get little semi-floaters and free throw attempts. Giannis is all about long strides, ballet-like spin moves and is a much more willing and capable passer. Cool players, the both of ‘em.
Meanwhile, Asik had a solid game (when he played) with 5 points, 7 rebounds and a +6 +/-. So... yeah.
Now for the good!
The other wing who guarded Jabari and Giannis was Solomon Hill, who had his best game as a member of the Pelicans. Hill finished with a line of 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
I especially liked Hill when he became a simple secondary playmaker.
Here, Hill gets the advantage on his guy and makes the right, easy play. A willing passer at this position could prove to be huge if this team wants to win any games.
Also: Tim Frazier!
Frazier used his quickness to find open spaces and passing lanes, finishing with 20 points, 9 assists and 4 steals in 36 minutes.He also finished with a positive offensive rating, assist-to-turnover ratio and hit two key jumpers late in the game to keep the Pels in it ... even better, Frazier did much of his work after halftime (13 points, 7 assists, 3 steals). After four games, Frazier has the second best net rating on the Pelicans (-2.8) behind E’Twaun Moore (+3.2).
Pelicans fans may have thought the Bucks would become the home team’s first victim this year, but alas, Malcom Brogdon made key plays and the Matthew Dellevadova-Giannis pick-and-roll (surely the longest named PnR combo in league history) put it away. Brogdon, the rookie from Virginia, had 14 points, 4 assists and 4 steals in a breakout game.
Interesting stat of the night: the two best +/- Bucks players not named Giannis were Tony Snell (+13) and Mirza Teletovic (+12). They shot as soon as they got the ball, but hey, that’s their purpose and that may have kept their offense from stalling. Snell added 10 rebounds that I straight up don’t remember.
Don’t worry Pels fans, there’s another game right around the corner to wash away the memories of this one. The Pelicans travel to Memphis to face the Grizzlies tomorrow at 7pm CST.