*30 for 30 voice*
"What if I told you that Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday would shoot a combined 4 of 23 from the field, but the Pelicans would still have the lead in the fourth quarter?"
Nobody would watch that 30 for 30, you know why? Because that scenario is normally not conceivable. Yet with 6:48 left in the fourth quarter last night, our Pellies were sitting pretty with an 86-84 lead over the Grizzlies. And then all hell broke loose.
The Grizz finished the game on a 26 - 9 run that was promoted by questionable sequences of defensive rotations and straight fire from the wrists of the dynamic duo of Jeff Green and Vince Carter. Yep, you read that last part right. Jeff Green and Vince Carter.
Carter and Green combined for 37 points while going 13 of 19 from the field and splashing down six triples. It will be tough to count on that kind of performance as a norm for Memphis, but man was it disheartening to be on the other end of it.
The Grizz are fun again, and I am 100% sure the Jeff Green/Vince Carter dual revival will last forever— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) February 2, 2016
^ What he said.
Due to the excellence of both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, the defense was often relegated to being left in shambles. Neither behemoth could be handled one on one in the post, forcing double teams to flash from different directions. The results were unsurprising: numerous easy lay ins or open threes.
For all of the (warranted) criticism of Norris Cole, he was the primary reason -- other than one Anthony Davis -- New Orleans was in the game. Although most of his actions were not different from what can be expected (risky pull ups, trying to do too much in transition, over-dribbling), Cole had it going with his shot and pushed the pace well to set up quick looks early in the shot clock.
It may not seem like much, but the little detail of Cole getting the offense into sets more swiftly can be the difference between an easy lay in or a contested jump shot. Those looks add up. When Cole has his head on straight on the decision-making front, he is a valuable player.
Davis played his normal steady game, nearly hitting his season averages in points and rebounds on the nose. Something just feels different. He doesn't spew the "OH MY GOD HERE WE GO" gasp that was showcased last season.
Instead of grabbing a game by the horns and saying "F this, I am not going to let us lose," Davis appears to be going through the motions. The numbers are always rosy of course. Sometimes it isn't always about the numbers. Now, he did have to tussle with a semi-truck all night (Zach Randolph), so fatigue was undoubtedly a factor.
There are just times when his decision making could be a bit sharper.
Even something as nit picky as this shouldn't be ignored. Rather than taking a semi contested long two that is out of rhythm, maybe swing the ball over to Bryce Dejean-Jones for the open three. Continue the fluency onward. Trade an OK shot for a better shot.
Speaking of Dejean-Jones, holy hell does he look like a keeper. Hitting on lottery ticket wings is a gigantic coup for any NBA franchise, especially an athletic wing starved team like the Pellies.
Dejean-Jones has funky athleticism with a flatteringly nifty handle and even some secondary playmaking chops that will mesh well with Holiday on the perimeter.
Making that sequence look that simple is no small feat. Tony freaking Allen is guarding him there and Dejean-Jones blows by right on by after a hesitation dribble. Also take note of the speed in which he gets to the basket to allow him the time and space to finish the drop off to Omer Asik. One step slower, and Mike Conley gets there in time to help.
All together, last night's game kind of just makes you say "ehh." Normally great shooters were cold, Cole went off, Carter and Green became an improbable scoring duo and the defense allowed a 60 percent shooting performance. Not exactly a solid recipe for victory.
The Pelicans look to avenge last night's defeat on Wednesday in San Antonio against the Spurs.
(God help us all.)