The New Orleans Pelicans lost their last game before the All-Star break, a 121-95 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jrue Holiday finished with 23 points, four rebounds, six assists and five steals for the Pelicans. Oklahoma City and All-Star starter Russell Westbrook finished with 23 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists. The Pelicans will enter the final stretch of the regular season with a record of 20-33 overall and 6.5 game deficit out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
At least, the game was close until the later portions of the third quarter. The Pelicans got off to a good start on the offensive end - Anthony Davis knocked down a handful of jumpers, Holiday came off the bench and provided some scoring off the bench and things looked good. Dante Cunningham, a man who played the entire first quarter, converted a couple good looks and Norris Cole dished out two assists.
But the defense. Oh the defense. The Thunder shot 56 percent in the first quarter, en route to a 55 percent second quarter. The Pelicans were struck with some hardship in the second quarter with Davis picking up his second foul at the end of the first, missing a notable chunk of the second quarter. Ryan Anderson got hurt, went back into the locker room, and came back with a compression sleeve on one of his arms. Anderson also didn't have a good start, finishing 0-5 from the floor in the first half.
As for Oklahoma City, the offense was a joy to watch. Kevin Durant had 17 points, Russell Westbrook had 18 points and seven assists. It didn't stop there as the secondary guys thrived for the Thunder. Even though they didn't have notable moments outside of the finish on Westbrook assists, Serge Ibaka, and Steven Adams combined for 15 points and created problems for the Pelicans when the attention was focused on slowing down Westbrook and Durant.
In the third, the Pelicans scored just 21 points to Oklahoma City's 33 points. Westbrook, closing in on another triple-double, did his best to extend that lead. Not only did he have some impressive finishes, but he also dished out three assists. Kevin Durant came around with four assists and a couple threes and the Pelicans couldn't keep up.
Truth be told, it was rather sad to watch this team. The Pelicans played well on the offensive side of the ball, but struggled on defense. As soon as Oklahoma City overpowered them in the third quarter, it was over. Ryan Anderson finishing with a 2-12 performance didn't help matters either.
- Ryan Anderson finished with four points, five rebounds and a -23 in 21:04. With Tyreke Evans out for the year and the future core consisting of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, I think Anderson is the best trade chip for New Orleans. Earlier in the day, it was reported that the Toronto Raptors have expressed interest. If the Pels could land Patterson and a first round pick, that would be a nice move for the future.
- No Bryce Dejean-Jones out there tonight. The Pelicans have to get that deal done and hopefully to a long-term contract. The Pelicans lack any really young players outside of Davis, and even if Dejean-Jones remains a reserve wing for his career, it would count as a win in this disappointing season. He has flashed an ability to get to the rim, make long range shots and help corral rebounds.
- Anthony Davis had a nice line, but also banged his elbow on a shot attempt that was blocked by Steven Adams in the third quarter. He was notably holding his elbow and wincing after the play concluded. Pray it doesn't affect his All-Star weekend participation.
- Norris Cole continues to put together some numbers. 15 points, five rebounds, six assists and a -10 in 27:21. He didn't play well on defense when matched up against Russell Westbrook, and didn't really have to defend the opposing shooting guard, even though Waiters got a couple open jumpers.
- Apropos of nothing, I would like to see the Pelicans trade for Mitch McGary. McGary isn't playing much behind the trio of Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka, and Enes Kanter. He can play some center, play some power forward and provide rebounding and energy. I wouldn't mind giving up a second rounder for McGary as a future rotation player.