The New Orleans Pelicans franchise has entered dangerous waters — they’ve become too complacent with their losing ways.
After last night’s disturbing 127-94 loss to the Utah Jazz, Alvin Gentry surprisingly sounded a little too casual to begin his post-game interview, especially when uttering the, “Oh, they beat us in every phase of the game,” line to kick off his comments.
I almost expected for him to next ask the media to cut the questions short because he was really hungry and eager to sink his teeth into Peche’s smoked tuna dip or a delectable bite from another local eatery. Actually, that may have been the better route to take because the head coach went on to mention, if not practically applaud, the reality that the Jazz are an elite team when George Hill is in the lineup. In fact, Gentry felt most were not giving Utah enough credit for playing really well, and hey, a lopsided loss like this is bound to happen.
“It’s an everything breakdown. Everything sucked. The effort that we played with sucked. The coaching sucked, ball movement, everything about it was just horrendous. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. We have an opportunity, we’re trying to get ourselves and work ourselves into the playoffs and we have an opportunity to do something that puts us a little bit closer to our goal and instead we laid an egg. I can sit up here and I can B.S. you guys and say well this happened and they made shots [but] no, they kicked our ass. In just plain English, they kicked our ass. In every phase of the game they did.”
Can anyone explain to me how one good old fashioned beating in every phase of the game can be completely understandable while not that long ago it was something that would rightfully cause a coach’s blood pressure to crash through the roof?
If anything, Gentry, the players and most certainly, the front office and ownership group, should be livid as hell. They’re losing all too often and the margins have sometimes been too uncomfortable for a professional NBA team with an MVP-caliber talent on the roster. Since Dell Demps first season as general manager back in 2010-11, 4 of the team’s 13 most lopsided defeats have occurred during this season.
- 33-point loss to the Utah Jazz on February 8, 2017
- 29-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets on January 20, 2017
- 28-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on December 10, 2016
- 27-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on November 12, 2016
So, no, we shouldn’t give a whole lot of credence to the fact that the Jazz are one of the best teams in the Western Conference. The Pelicans have had their asses handed to themselves a few too many times this season, a season that is proving to be far healthier than New Orleans is accustomed to and sporting a facelift to the roster that was supposed to start making fans proud of the team again.
The inconsistencies have been mind-boggling: from impressive wins over the Cavaliers and Spurs to narrow 4th quarter losses to the slew of dropped-ball performances. When Sean Kelley asked about how the Pelicans should try and establish more consistency, David Wesley didn’t shy away far from the truth in yesterday’s Black and Blue Report.
The Fox Sports New Orleans color analyst said the Pelicans need “more of a demand for excellence” and that may require making a radical change at the head coaching position. Wesley cited a recent bus trip with the team as evidence. He noted that one player was watching a college basketball game without headphones, another was content to allow his phone to ring endlessly without answering and a number of others were engaged in loud conversation.
David Wesley was trying to make the point that the team didn’t appear to have the requisite focus. Learned during his playing days, the former shooting guard stated that game preparation should start well before tip-off, but he hasn’t seen the same process in New Orleans.
Back when Gentry was hired, the idea was to lighten up the atmosphere in the locker room, make it, practices and everything else, more fun. The thinking was this would enable the roster to take the proverbial next step, similar to how the Warriors took off after replacing Mark Jackson with Steve Kerr.
Those responsible for making the coaching change less than two years ago in New Orleans miscalculated badly.
The addition of playing music during practices and such have led to everything but improvement, and the reason is rather simple according to David Wesley: the team doesn’t have the necessary veteran leadership to ensure they properly handle their business. Yes, Anthony Davis is the team’s leader, but he’s only 23 years of age so he still doesn’t have a firm grasp on how to handle everything and lead a group of young men quite yet.
According to Wesley, Earl Watson, the head coach of the Phoenix Suns, recently echoed the same sentiments to him. Watson stated that the biggest thing missing from his roster is also experience. When Monty Williams went walking out of that door on Airline Dr., his most desirable characteristic left too — discipline.
Following last night’s contest, this hard-working, blue-collar Pelicans squad, “played like an amateur league team.” It happened to come in the 53rd game of the schedule. It’s high time someone is held responsible for the disaster, especially before any further damage can be done.