It must be mentioned that both teams were playing their second game in as many nights for the first time this season.
It showed — especially for New Orleans.
The Pelicans started the game looking extremely lethargic and fought hard to shake the cobwebs throughout; nowhere was this more apparent then on the glass. The Bulls finished with 16 offensive rebounds, in stark contrast to the Pelicans’ five.
Scoring didn’t come easy for anyone tonight either. The Pelicans totaled only 17 first quarter points, and both teams had 38 heading into halftime. DeMarcus Cousins missed seven of his first eight field goal attempts. New Orleans, as a team, missed nine of their first ten three-pointers.
To start the fourth quarter, New Orleans was down 64-57 and a loss felt all but inevitable. However, the Pelicans surprised all doubters, turning on the jets to quickly erase the deficit thanks to a 20-7 run to begin the final frame.
From there, it was a battle to the finish.
Both teams were unable to capitalize on good looks down the stretch so they were rewarded with free basketball. In overtime though, the Pelicans managed to take control and outscored the Bulls by a 13-7 margin. Cousins and Jameer Nelson combined for 11 of those points.
The big man duo of Anthony Davis and Cousins once again put up good numbers —Davis with 27 points and 16 rebounds, Cousins with 25 and 11. While the final numbers look fantastic, Boogie finished the game making just six shots on 20 attempts. When push comes to shove though, the Pelicans have to learn how to win when one of the Boogie and The Brow tandem is not firing on all cylinders.
Tonight, an optimist could say they did just that.
The lack of scoring is worrisome, and once again, it came as a result of terrible shooting. The Pelicans knocked down 9/31 three pointers, their second straight game shooting less than 30% from deep.
Individually, Jrue Holiday had another rough day finding the range, going 5 for 15. Despite his aggressive play all over the floor was encouraging, the ball just wouldn’t drop. Late in the game, tied at 83, Holiday had a chance to win the game for the Pelicans, but missed the go ahead 22-foot jump shot, badly.
The bigger issue might have perhaps been the play-call from Alvin Gentry. With close to ten seconds left on the clock, the Pelicans got the ball and took a timeout. It was inbounded to Holiday, who drove and pulled up for the long mid-range jumper — with five seconds still left in the game.
**There is no excuse for a team coming out of a timeout in a tie game, whether they make or miss, to give the opponent a shot at the win.
Fortunately for the Pelicans, the Bulls weren’t able to get off a shot in the time remaining to steal the win.
Darius Miller had a second straight solid game for the Pelicans, hitting three of his six 3pt attempts. While this may not seem like a gaudy number, in an offense that revolves around exploiting open three point shots, reliable shooting is important. The team’s other 3 point specialists were especially bad tonight — E’Twaun Moore, Ian Clark, and Dante Cunningham combined to shoot 0-8 from deep.
Nelson showed the importance of his presence on the floor once again tonight. He posted a spectacular all around line of 13 points, five assists, five rebounds, four steals and three triples. Nelson hit some big shots down the stretch, yet none were bigger than his three to put the Pelicans up six to ice the game in overtime..
The Pelicans probably feel lucky to leave Chicago with a win tonight, but it’s a win nonetheless. They’re now 5-5 and will look to build off of two tumultuous wins in a row on Tuesday, when they face the Pacers in Indiana.