Some average teams struggle to find the necessary consistency because they seem to always find new ways to lose, but that hasn’t been the case for the Pelicans this season. They’ve simply been stricken by the same song and dance: mountains of turnovers and moments of super porous defense.
Tonight was no different.
The New Orleans Pelicans fell to the Washington Wizards 116-106 after bad tendencies reared their ugly heads yet again during two prolonged stretches of play.
Seven and a half minutes into the game the Wizards were up on the Pelicans by a 27-13 margin. Washington capitalized on four early New Orleans turnovers for 10 points and also had a quick 11-0 fastbreak advantage. The energy, effort and hard attacks towards the rim were all exhibited by the Wizards. John Wall, in particular, got off to a scorching start, totaling 14 points and six assists in the first quarter.
A deficit of 36-19 following the initial 12 minutes of action ballooned to so much more in the second quarter; however, a well-timed Alvin Gentry technical foul helped New Orleans momentarily get back on track. After trailing by a game-high 25 points, the Pelicans went on a 22-3 run thanks to 18 free throw attempts in the final 4:40 of the first half.
The good vibes quickly vanished coming out of the break as Anthony Davis wasn’t on the floor and Jen Hale broke the bad news.
Doctors x rayed the right wrist of @PelicansNBA Anthony Davis during the half time break. Awaiting results now, and he's questionable to return, still in locker room.— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) December 20, 2017
Although the Pelicans proceeded to tie up the game at 61 apiece just minutes into the third quarter, the Wizards regained their footing to score the next seven following a timeout.
To the delight of Crescent City fans, Davis returned with a heavily wrapped arm in the wrist area with New Orleans trailing by only eight points, but it didn’t move the needle because more turnovers were accompanied this time by a Pelicans offense that sputtered and died. New Orleans was outscored by a 32-15 margin in the third quarter and they failed to mount a serious challenge for the rest of the contest.
Despite the Pelicans playing in an arena they haven’t won in since January 1, 2011, chalk this loss up as another seriously disappointing showing. After having three days off, a potential playoff team shouldn’t suffer through two massive lulls like the ones we witnessed tonight.
Anthony Davis (37 points, nine rebounds) and DeMarcus Cousins (26 points, 13 rebounds, four assists) posted some nice looking individual lines, but that doesn’t merit any further attention. Rather, let’s revisit my three keys heading into tonight’s contest because it aptly describes most of what transpired on the court.
- Execute without the turnovers — mission failed. The Pelicans committed 16 turnovers which led to 25 points for Washington, and this was never more evident than in the Wizards deciding runs in the first and third quarters. A lot of high-powered offenses in the league can get away with a large number of turnovers, but New Orleans isn’t one of them. Time and again, we witness a player or two failing to get back to their assignments which always leads to easy points for opponents.
- Dominate the points in the paint — mission failed. New Orleans won the battle in the paint by a 48-44 margin, but when the game was still in question, the Wizards held the crucial advantage. #DoItBig needs to be a constant of the offense because on those off-shooting nights — like tonight where the Pels knocked down just 5 of 20 three-pointers — New Orleans needs to be able to fall back on something that works.
- Stop Mike Scott — mission failed. Scott was hot coming entering this matchup and he started a perfect 5-5 from the floor for 12 points. For the game he finished with 24 points on 11 of 15 from the field. Seriously, Mike Scott.
Up next, the Pelicans have a couple of days off before they travel to Florida to play the Orlando Magic. Let’s hope they make better use of their practices this time around. Sigh.