The New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 114-105 Wednesday night at home, dropping their record to 18-28 and pushing them further behind the frontrunners for the #8 seed, the Denver Nuggets.
On the day he was honored by Complex.com with a comparison to the one and only Young Thug, Russell Westbrook notched his 23rd triple-double of the season with 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 turnovers. The Thunder are now 18-5 when Westbrook fills up the box score with 10+ points, assists and rebounds. Steven Adams finished with 20, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.
In less than a week’s time, Anthony Davis left a game due to a bruised right thigh — Davis seemed to connect with Domantas Sabonis in the post in the 2nd quarter and wouldn’t return. Honestly, the collision seemed very light, but hey, it wasn’t my leg. AD posted 8 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes. AD was also compared to J. Cole in the same article mentioned above, for whatever that means. Maybe J. Cole gets a ton of small injuries.
Yes he is.— Anthony Davis hurt? (@isTheBrowHurt) January 26, 2017
The Pelicans defense had extended minutes of listless attention and intensity, allowing offensive rebounds and buckets in and near the paint. That’s OKC’s specialty, but it was pretty ugly for awhile. Once, Russell Westbrook — yes, THAT Russell Westbrook — was basically ignored as he dribbled down the floor and went in for a layup. It was kind of shocking. Another time, explained well by the wise David Wesley, Westbrook found Adams under the hoop as Terrence Jones turned his back on the ball. You have to know Westbrook wants to make very simple, direct, ballsy passes directly to the hoop for easy assists.
There were cuts by Andre Roberson and Joffrey Lauvergne for layups/dunks, and Omer Asik appeared in 3 disastrous minutes when he fumbled a potential steal, got a 3-seconds-in-the-key violation, got dunked on by Enes Kanter and then got schooled by him in an iso situation. That’s just what I remember off the top of my head.
Down 19 points at halftime and by as many as 21 in the 3rd, the Pelicans mounted a decent comeback to get the game to within 5 midway through the 4th quarter, but the Thunder eventually put the game away like a playoff team should.
Kanter was effective in the post, helping extend the OKC lead at the end of the 1st quarter. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds and took an AD elbow to the face, after which he received stitches.
Donatas Motiejunas became the big man of choice in the second half and showed his multitude of skills, finishing with 10 points and 4 rebounds, plus 5 fouls. His NBA skills are very real, but he may need a consistent role so he knows what his teammates need from him. He reminds me of Boris Diaw — you could see him being a really nice piece on a super good team.
Jrue Holiday finished with 14 points, 8 assists and 4 steals and was surely the best player on the floor for NOP. He created shots for himself and others; Tyreke Evans also created shots but his overused Eurostep was really spotty. Rookie Alex Abrines swatted the crap out of one of his floater-layup-thingys. Reke finished with 14 and 9 assists and remains very bad in transition offense.
The Solo I Want To Know
But here’s my biggest takeaway: Solomon Hill made multiple aggressive plays with the ball in his hands. In fact, he needs to play like Young Thu...er, Russell Westbrook!
Step 1: Grab defensive rebound
Step 2: Immediately sprint down the floor with controlled dribble
Step 3: Go forward until someone makes you pass or change angle
That might seem super simple, but Solo has got to help the Pels produce easy buckets. He’s a totally fine ballhandler, so methinks he’s gotta find a way to get it and go. Twice he got layups/dunks, another time he got an assist off a feed to DMo and, in his best move, he received a pass as a trailer on transition, made one quick move and made it to the hoop for a dunk. Just another flash in the pan, probably, but it’s nice when the Pels can get it.
A monster jam by Solomon Hill gets a fellow in a cowboy hat sitting baseline on his feet. Pelicans pull within 5 with 5:33 to play.— Justin Verrier (@JustinVerrier) January 26, 2017
New Orleans finishes the homestand with a Friday-Sunday set against San Antonio and Washington - giddy up!