The New Orleans Pelicans put themselves in a great position to leave Toronto with an equally impressive and improbable victory. However, mighty offensive lulls, both at the start of the 2nd half and to finish the game, allowed the Raptors to claw back into the thick of things and put Kyle Lowry in a position to be a hero.
Yes, of course the 2017 All-Star came through in the clutch.
Hats off to Mr. Lowry, but the Pelicans had more than their fair share of chances to still walk away winners. The last offensive possession kind of told the story of the game: New Orleans was incredibly inefficient out of timeouts.
For some inexplicable reason, Anthony Davis and E’Twaun Moore collided in the sequence above, and it slowed Moore down enough for Toronto’s defense to recover and closely contest his final shot attempt.
Yeah, maybe Moore should have thrown a ball fake — hey, there were 4.3 seconds left — or the rest of the team not named Buddy Hield should have crashed the glass, but it’s most disturbing to see the execution fail this epically. Is it a lack of practice? Just not enough awareness for one another on the floor? Nerves in the big moment?
It could be all or none of the above, I’m not sure, but it reinforces the notion that New Orleans isn’t a very good team because consistency issues continue to plague the team more often than not.
Out of all the offensive possessions right out of timeouts, the Pelicans converted just one shot out of six attempts and had two turnovers to boot. Conversely, the Raptors went 5-7 in such instances with two layups, two dunks and just one turnover.
Meh, that’s one shitty way to come up on the wrong end of a 108-106 affair in overtime.
It certainly didn’t help matters, though, that Davis had his worst shooting game of the season. His ghastly 4-18 performance (22.2%) just edged out a 3-13 game against Memphis and a 4-17 line versus the Suns. Truth be told, it wasn’t just all the missed shots that were noticeably wrong with AD. I honestly thought he looked lifeless for most of the contest. For instance, Jonas Valanciunas had his way with him in the paint and then Norman Powell decided to try and extinguish Davis’ light for good.
As crappy as AD looked, although he atoned for some of it down the stretch on both ends of the floor, Jrue Holiday was there to pick him up — almost every single time. Prior to the final few minutes of the game, where he missed several shots including a potential game-winner in regulation, Holiday was sensational. Jrue finished with 30 points on 13-21 shooting and added three triples, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
Over his last five games, Holiday is averaging 25.2 points, 3.2 three-pointers, 8.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.4 blocks. Oh, and let’s not forget he’s shooting 59.8% from the field and 55.2% from deep.
Bravo, Mr. Holiday.
As for the rest of the squad, it was a complete mixed bag. Buddy Hield hit double-digits in scoring (15) for the first time in five games, E’Twaun Moore pitching in 17 points, and Terrence Jones had 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and countless more victims bite on his famous ball fake.
On the flip side, Langston Galloway was icy cold from the perimeter, and Solomon Hill was nearly synonymous with the phrase, automatic turnover, whenever he attempted to do something on offense. Perhaps the worst news of the night, though, was the injury bulletin released by the Pelicans out of halftime regarding Dante Cunningham.
Tuesday night’s loss in Toronto drops the Pelicans record to 19-30 on the season, and as of this writing, into an uncomfortable position in the Western Conference.
Pelicans are now 3.5 games back of 8th place in the West ... and 3.5 games ahead of last place in the West.— Justin Verrier (@JustinVerrier) February 1, 2017
A sting of several more losses and New Orleans could be knocking on the cellar door, or if they somehow manage to right the ship, they could find themselves right back in the race for the 8th seed.
Likely not helping the cause is the fact that the Pelicans will play the Detroit Pistons tomorrow. The game will mark the first back-to-back for New Orleans since before Christmas.
In case you’ve forgotten, the last time Davis appeared in a basketball game in Detroit, he dropped a cool 59 points. Can he regain that magical touch? For the sake of the Pelicans playoff hopes, let’s hope so.