Entering tonight, Anthony Davis was averaging 22.2 points on 44.2% shooting over the Pelicans previous 5 games. Against the Celtics on Saturday, the All-Star hopeful went for 36 points, on 14-22 from the field, but New Orleans still wound up losing the game — their 3rd straight — in Boston by a final score of 117-108.
Eight times this season Davis has gone for 35+ points and 15+ rebounds, but the Pelicans have only been able to notch victories in just three of those monster performances. Never mind the fact that the rest of the NBA has only been able to duplicate the same statistics just six times all season!
The Pelicans started the game off on a positive note, winning the first quarter by a 31-28 margin; however, it was mostly all downhill after that. While the Celtics kept the pedal to the metal throughout, specifically by Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart, New Orleans’ lackadaisical play out of halftime cost them a chance to win the game. The Celtics outscored the Pelicans by a 36-20 margin in the third quarter. What had been a 4-point halftime deficit morphed into a 20-point insurmountable wall in a matter of just 12 minutes.
It’s not that the defense was awful — the Pelicans outshot the Celtics 47.1% to 43% — New Orleans just lacked the killer instinct all too often. Boston capitalized on second chance points and turnovers to a tune of 45 points, compared to just a 27 point total for New Orleans in the same categories.
In addition to the difference in hustle and ability to capitalize on mistakes, the Celtics were red-hot from the three-point arc, making 18 of 36 attempts. Smart and Thomas wound up making 11 of those bombs, clearly outperforming their counterparts, Jrue Holiday and Buddy Hield. For the game, Boston’s duo combined for 60 points while New Orleans starting backcourt only totaled 21 points.
Talk about an ass whooping, huh?
On the plus side — besides Davis returning to alien status — Donatas Motiejunas was exemplary in his first game for the Pelicans. The newest signing by the front office finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 three/steal in a mere 20 minutes of action. In his post-game comments, Alvin Gentry admitted Motiejunas had gotten more run than he anticipated because of how well he played. Honestly, outside of Langston Galloway catching fire in the second half, Motiejunas could have been mistaken for New Orleans second best player on the night: he hit his lone long range perimeter attempt, took a charge and made a slew of nice passes. His activity should have been infectious, but alas...
When you add it all up, tonight was a rather disheartening overall performance by the Pelicans to kick off an important 5-game road trip. After having won 4 of 5 games on a recent home stand, New Orleans has now lost their last 3 games, including tonight to a Celtics squad that was on the second night of a back-to-back.
3 games in 2017, 3 losses for the New Orleans Pelicans. pic.twitter.com/NZuFYpAMfV— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) January 8, 2017
The Pelicans are now 10 games under .500, but still remain well within striking distance of the 8th seed in the Western Conference. However, that margin could change quickly before New Orleans returns home if the losses keep mounting. Next up, a date in New York City against the Knicks.
Keep your fingers crossed, guys.