The New Orleans Pelicans gave their hometown just one more reason to celebrate their consistently inconsistent play by following up a signature win over the Celtics, plus Knicks and Blazers, with a dreadful second half performance against one of the league’s worst in the Atlanta Hawks, 93-94.
The Pelicans managed only nine third quarter points when they slipped up against the Memphis Grizzlies two weeks ago, and nearly accomplished the same feat with only ten in the third against the Hawks.
So why are the Pelicans the league’s best team offensively in the first half, and only 22nd in the second?
Could the answer be fatigue?
Alvin Gentry doesn’t seem to think so.
However, the numbers show that Jrue Holiday, Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis sport the fourth, 11th and 12th most minutes played this year in the NBA.
Can the answer be depth?
Cheick Diallo and Omer Asik have combined to appear in just 33 games this season, with 6.5 and 7.7 minutes played respectively in those appearances.
With substantial injuries to Tony Allen, Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca, and Frank Jackson, the Pelicans have been forced to lean on a shortened rotation of Darius Miller, Dante Cunningham, Ian Clark, and Jameer Nelson.
While the combination of Ian Clark to the crunch time lineup has improved fourth quarter production of late, it only masks the cliff the Pelicans have fallen off in terms of shooting in January. Clark himself is shooting 17% from three, Nelson 16%, Cunningham 27%, and Miller 37% (down from 56% and 46% in previous months).
Is it time to seek help? The trade deadline is less than three weeks away and the Pelicans have shown a five seeded finish as a distinct possibility. But while they have the talent to defeat the Celtics, they may need the extra horses to beat the Hawks.
Join Andrew Smith of Bourbon Street Shots and David Grubb of Crescent City Sports, as we talk trade possibilities, buyout candidates, and much more on the latest episode of The Bird Calls.
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