Let me know if you’ve heard this one before: the New Orleans Pelicans started off a game rather slowly, rallied late, but the comeback attempt came up a bit short.
Well, in their 106-101 loss on Friday night to the Miami Heat, all of that happened tenfold. Or maybe a hundredfold. After twenty-one minutes of action, New Orleans trailed by 31 points — yes, that’s not a misprint — 31 points... To a team with a 7-13 record... That had lost eight of their last ten games.
Outside of the day and team chosen, this formula has been a fixture in enough losses so far this season. In typical fashion, New Orleans fell behind by a large deficit — but never on this scale — and parts of it at some junctures were flat out embarrassing.
The Pelicans, however, proceeded to immediately claw back with a spirited effort that should have made an appearance earlier in the contest.
NOLA was able to get within a single possession, but their one opportunity was lost; thus falling just short of a miraculous comeback and some redemption.
Mirotic misses the 3 on one end, AD had a chance to grab the board, but he taps it out into the hands of a Heat player. Josh Richardson hits a lefty bank shot on the other end to push the Miami lead back to 105-100 with 26.1 seconds left.— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) December 1, 2018
For the Pelicans, Anthony Davis finished with another statistically fantastic performance: 41 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Joining him in the notable production department, Jrue Holiday posted 21 points and eight assists while closing his second straight game with under four turnovers (3).
The Miami Heat countered with a balanced attack in which six players scored in double figures, with Josh Richardson leading the group with 20 points.
New Orleans will once again have to look themselves in the mirror, figure out what the heck went wrong and challenge their repeated efforts on both sides of the floor. But before we try to pick up the pieces, here’s three observations from Game 23.
A cry for help
The jokes about the musical chairs of a bench rotation for New Orleans were funny at one point. Now, not so much. Outside of Julius Randle’s eight points, only two other reserves scored for NOLA. Neither scored more than two.
In 55 minutes among the bench who do not wear a Julius Randle jersey, they totaled 4 points.— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) December 1, 2018
The Miami Heat, who have Dragic, Johnson + Waiters out, had 4 reserves combine for 49 points.
New Orleans lost by five, after trailing by 31.
Literally any help puts the Pels on top.
In comparison, the Heat reserves finished with 49 points, with three scoring at least 10, led by Dwyane Wade’s 18. With starter E’Twuan possibly facing some games missed (we’ll get to that in a moment), the Pelicans will need stronger production from an already thin and usually limited bench. Additional help will be needed, but it’s entirely unclear where it’s going to come from if the player being mentioned isn’t Julius Randle.
Old habits die hard
Not only did the Pels forget to bring their fire extinguisher on Friday, they forgot to display any intensity once again at the start of a game.
What an embarrassing start by the Pelicans in this first quarter against the Heat. The effort hasn't been there, nor the focus, and at this point you've got to wonder why this lackadaisical attitude has reared its head this often on the season.— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) December 1, 2018
Falling quickly behind by 31 points, however, goes past normal any acceptable norms. Such a great disparity echoes a team that is entirely unfocused and uninterested.
Here's Anthony Davis' response when asked about the team's consistent lack of urgency to begin games: pic.twitter.com/KvtxbQ59N2— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) December 1, 2018
While the players may be saying the right things to the press — when they do decide to speak on the matter, it’s going to be interesting to see what it may take for them to put it all together consistently regardless of the scenario or opponent. It’s time for action, as words and promises are simply no longer enough.
E’Twaun Moore’s injury
As mentioned earlier, Moore sustained an injury late in Friday’s contest that required him to leave the floor. And initially, things did not look promising.
E’Twaun Moore on the ground grabbing at his leg, just below the knee.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) December 1, 2018
He missed a full possession and Pels had to foul to get him off the court.
He was helped off by two teammates. Does not look good.
The good news though is that the x-rays came back negative, and Moore is looking at some type of calf injury. The severity is unknown, but we should find out more soon as New Orleans faces the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday afternoon.
For a Pelicans team already missing Elfrid Payton and Frank Jackson, let’s hope it’s nothing serious. The team is already very thin at the guard position, and when you throw in the struggles of finding consistent wing production and the great year Moore has had, a long term injury couldn’t come at a worse of a time for the Pels.
Here’s to hoping Moore can return as soon as possible, and that this horrible, horrible loss — despite a valiant comeback — motivates the squad to produce a better effort against the Hornets in a few days.
Until next time,