Last night was one of the most abhorrent displays of "professional" basketball I have seen in quite some time. 44 combined assists and 43 turnovers. The Houston Rockets defeated the New Orleans Pelicans despite going 3-34 behind the arc. That's not a misprint. Next up, the San Antonio Spurs. This should be fun.
Oddly, the Pelicans have routinely matched up well against the Gregg Popovich coached outfit. In the last two seasons, New Orleans is 4-2 against the Spurs with both losses coming in San Antonio. Tim Duncan last collected a victory in the Crescent City on February 3, 2014. Al-Farouq Aminu, Brian Roberts, Anthony Morrow, Austin Rivers, and Greg Stiemsma all logged 20+ minutes as the Spurs roared back in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Yeah, it's been a long time.
Last time these teams played in New Orleans a severely limited Pelicans team demolished the Spurs. After a quick San Antonio start, the Pelicans turned up the defensive intensity and shut down the paint, limiting the Spurs to just 28 points in the paint. That's a far cry from last night where the Rockets scored 58, a theme for a Pelicans defense that has melted in the absence of Omer Asik.
Let's have an honest talk here. The Pelicans are now six games back of the Houston Rockets with just 23 games remaining. The Rockets also hold the tiebreaker over New Orleans thanks to winning the season series 3-1. The playoffs are done. The best outcome tonight is a competitive loss where Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis log a lot of minutes together and no one gets hurt.
Get well soon Dante Cunningham.
With that said, here are the keys to securing another loss.
Keys to Tanking
Keep starting Norris Cole: Freezing out Anthony Davis? Hunting for the next contract? Cole provides a smorgasbord of tanking potential in a stylish flat top. Even when Cole is hot it rarely feels like his shooting bodes well for winning basketball. Good. Start Cole. Don't let Anthony Davis log those minutes with Jrue Holiday. Launch another pull up three. Look off AD and try a floater. All shots are good. Light is green.
Minimal effort: Yeah, the Pelicans could rotate over to force an extra pass. Or, instead, stay glued to their own responsibility a lay down the red carpet in the paint for Tony Parker and company. Box out? Nah, let's stand around and watch instead of finding a body.
One small, non-tanking request. No diving into the stands, Anthony Davis. Save your body and make an All-NBA team this year, please.
Sit your starters Pop: This team routinely fails to take the challenge of playing in the NBA seriously. Both teams are coming off an game Wednesday night but the Spurs have a much older roster and far higher aspirations at the end of the season. Sit those starters Pop. Play Boban Marjanovic to your heart's content. Remember the last time a team sat starters against the Pelicans? The Spurs reserves are far better than the Dallas Mavericks bench mob.
What: Pelicans vs. Spurs
When: March 3rd, 7:00 PM
Where: Smoothie King Center
How: TNT, 99.5 FM WRNO