Less than an hour before tip-off, the Pelicans announced Jrue Holiday would miss the game with a left toe injury (supposedly due to a large blister). That left New Orleans with just 8 able-bodied players on the roster, the minimum for an NBA game.
Surprisingly, the contest was competitive throughout, as the Pelicans never trailed by a margin greater than twelve points, and with 1:03 remaining, they were only down by just four points. Unfortunately, New Orleans didn't possess enough firepower to pull out the victory.
The Pelicans offense revolved around Alexis Ajinca early and then a combination of Alonzo Gee and Tim Frazier late. All three players ended up setting new season-highs in points, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Pacers, despite the fact that Paul George left the game in the third quarter with a lower right leg contusion.
New Orleans tallied 16 turnovers versus 15 assists. This ratio aptly described the lack of fluidity on offense, but it should have surprised no one. With six of their top scorers missing in action, multiple Pelicans were forced into uncomfortable roles. For instance, Dante Cunningham was much more aggressive in looking for his shot. I'm pretty sure he surpassed his season total for shots on the move/off the dribble in the span of just tonight's game.
However, some good things did emerge.
- Ajinca put up 20 shots (easily a new career high) and made 10. Many predicted Alvin Gentry would put his offense to good use as we entered the 2015-16 season, but it has obviously failed to transpire. Perhaps this game will be the starting point of something good?
- After some questionable decision-making early, Gee smartly attacked the lane in the second half. He has so much athleticism that it's a shame he doesn't look to display it more often.
- And Tim Frazier, perhaps vying for a future role with the organization, had another above-average shooting night (7 for 11). In five games with the Pelicans, he has acquitted himself well: 55.5 FG%, 57.1 3FG% and 90.5 FT%. Not bad for a guy who supposedly can't shoot.
On the other side of the court, who wasn't impressed by the play of Myles Turner? His 24-point, 16-rebound and 3-block effort exhibited all of his talents. He has range on his jumpshot, and he isn't afraid to battle for rebounds and positioning in the post. The Pacers seem like they've struck gold in the 2015 NBA draft with their 11th overall pick.
Up next, New Orleans comes back home and will welcome the Toronto Raptors on Saturday. Eleven games are left on the docket, but it's impossible to say at this point which players will be available for each contest.