Despite a second half surge and strong performances from Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the New Orleans Pelicans fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-98. The loss drops their record to 3-5 and a 4-game road trip now looms on the horizon.
The Pelicans were in despondent territory after the first half; down by 11 and on track to give up 130 points, allowing 65 through the first two quarters. The team seemed slightly hungover from the walloping on Monday at the hands of the Orlando Magic, suffering from a similar sense of lethargy and nerves.
However, things could have gone more positively. In what should have been a winning first quarter, the script changed at the drop of hat when the Pelicans gave up six points in the final four seconds of the quarter, knocking down a couple of three-pointers including this beauty by Jamal Crawford.
The Timberwolves fed off that energy in the second quarter, outscoring the Pelicans by eight. As the second half started though, the game quickly turned around because the Big 3 took decisive action. After a couple of very strong defensive stops, including a monstrous block by Cousins, the Pelicans started out on a 15-4 run.
The rest of the second half played out through a series of runs. At the top of the fourth, the Timberwolves took a 12-point lead at 90-78, but the Pelicans tied it up late at 98 apiece. Unfortunately, a few calls didn’t quite go the Pelicans way down the wire, most notably a missed layup from Tony Allen that looked to be affected by a late run out from Karl-Anthony Towns.
Following the game, Head Coach Alvin Gentry applauded the second half effort, but admitted getting in the hole hurt.
“I thought we played well the second half, but you’re playing uphill most of the second half,” said Gentry. “You finally get the game where we’ve got it tied and then we’ve just got to make plays down the stretch. They made plays. We didn’t make plays and when you’re in a close game like that, that’s usually the difference in the game.”
Alas, another loss, but at least the team went down swinging.
- DeMarcus Cousins stepped up in a big way after an off game on Monday. He led both teams in scoring with 35 points, including five made three-pointers. Put that together with nine rebounds and six assists adds up to a pretty fantastic day for the big man. He does, however, continue to struggle with turnovers, logging eight this game: a microcosm of the greater turnover issues the entire teem seems to be suffering from. The Pelicans finished with 19 official miscues for the second straight game.
- Anthony Davis also put up fantastic numbers: 24 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. The New Orleans Kentucky big man tandem got the best of the Timberwolves respective Wildcat representation in Karl Anthony Towns. KAT got in foul trouble early and never got on track, recording only two points.
- Other than the New Orleans big men, there wasn’t much to write home about for the Pelicans. Holiday continues to have trouble with consistency. Although he finished with 14 points, six assists and five rebounds, his play down the stretch lacked the necessary confidence. He passed on an open 15-foot jumper to attempt a pass that should have been picked off, and then later, seemingly had a chance to score around the rim on a drive but instead attempted another ill-fated pass. In team losses this year, Holiday is averaging 11 points — a far cry from the 21 he averages in victories.
- The three-point shooting was woeful if you remove Cousins 5-10. 3-22 isn’t going to get it done in the league, and the biggest offenders were Holiday’s 0-5 and Dante Cunningham’s 1-5.
- The Pelicans continue to confuse with inconsistent play. When on, the Davis and Boogie connection creates shots for everyone on the team, the defense is stiff, and offense is motion heavy. When off, New Orleans seems completely lost on both ends of the floor, struggling to get good looks.
- Despite the loss, there were some positives to take away from the game: The team showed a gritty resolve to come back, Davis and Cousins continue to play well together, and Tony Allen’s infectious play is growing.
Up next, the Pelicans will seek to put all the pieces together on the road this coming Friday, November 3rd, against the Dallas Mavericks.