Washington found an abundance of good looks early, and their defense was set to collapse in on any drive made by Jrue Holiday. New Orleans played a tad loose early, with Rajon Rondo trying to attack in response to Holiday’s passive play. With seven turnovers and just six made baskets in the second quarter, it was clear by halftime that this game was all but out of reach. At the break, New Orleans had already committed 10 turnovers, assisted on only nine field goals, and had zero made threes (0/10). Clearly a scramble for identity without the All-NBA Davis of late.
To illustrate the difficulty managing lineups without the star big, take a look at this. Without Cheick Diallo or Emeka Okafor on the floor — meaning Nikola Mirotic was stuck playing at the 5, the Pelicans were -14 after just five minutes. Should Davis miss any more time, this becomes highly alarming.
“I didn’t think we ever got into any kind of flow offensively,” said Head Coach Alvin Gentry. “Part of that is they’re pretty good defensively. The other part is we didn’t have moment and we had no flow to what we were doing. We’re a flow team that plays in transition and with an open floor. We just never really got into that tonight.”
Ultimately, the Wizards got the shots they wanted. As the Pelicans could not seem to buy a shot, Washington illuminated New Orleans’ lack of size, depth and talent without Davis. New Orleans did not see its first three-point make until near the end of the third quarter. On a team dependent on shots coming from outside, this was not a winning formula. Jrue Holiday’s passive nature was exploited. Washington suffocated any attempt Holiday made towards the hoop and as a result it made him force shots. In the end, New Orleans didn’t have enough.
“Honestly to me I felt like it was just one of those nights,” said Holiday. “Fatigue, maybe even a little high off the road trip. Whatever it was, it happened, and we’ve got to move passed it. I didn’t have it. I’m a little disappointed in myself, but it was just a tough game.”
En route to the 116-97 loss, Holiday finished with just four points on eight shot attempts. Darius Miller led the Pelicans with 20 points, which included four three-pointers, and Cheick Diallo nearly posted a triple-double with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
All together, New Orleans wound up with a 46.3 shooting percentage from the field, but that was largely buoyed by a 57.7 FG% in the fourth quarter — garbage time. The Pelicans missed their first 12 three-point attempts. By the time Miller knocked down their first make of the night, their was 2:10 remaining in the third game and the deficit was 24 points.
New Orleans will be at home again on Sunday to face the Utah Jazz, but Anthony Davis is hopeful to return. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.