The execution wasn’t always the prettiest and the talent disparity was noticeable at times, but one could say that at least the New Orleans Pelicans fought hard from start to finish against a very good Philadelphia 76ers team before ultimately losing 116-109.
The Sixers looked sharpest in the first quarter, shooting 59.3% from the field and putting up 39 points to seize a 14-point lead. However, they never managed to run away from the Pelicans mainly because New Orleans kept turnovers to a minimum all night and they typically looked to attack the rim.
Case in point, the Pelicans began the second quarter on a 9-0 run and wound up winning the quarter by a 32-23 margin. They attempted eight three-pointers versus 12 shots inside the paint and five free throws. The closing minute of the first half was especially nice as New Orleans scored seven points over the final 41 seconds.
End the half hot ☑️ pic.twitter.com/Dgpvy9CmmR— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 14, 2019
During this 11-game losing streak — which ties the franchise high, we’ve normally seen the Pelicans settle for large stretches and some long dry spells would ensue. That wasn’t the case tonight as New Orleans wound up attempting a season-low 24 three-pointers, 15 short of their average.
After briefly grabbing a 71-70 third quarter lead following a Kenrich Williams made three-pointer (he had missed 15 in a row before that make), the 76ers proceeded to push their lead back to double digits. Despite this, the Pelicans never quit and relied on the free throw line to claw their way back.
Jrue Holiday began the game aggressively, forcing his way into the paint, and the rest of the team seemed to follow his lead. Although the Pelicans lost the points in the paint battle 56-46, that assertiveness paid off handsomely with 35 free throw attempts, tying the team’s season-high. On the flip side, it’s a shame they only converted 24 of them because they could have put some serious pressure on the Sixers as they were enduring their own struggles from the charity stripe too.
Brandon Ingram scored a game-high 32 points and also added six rebounds. JJ Redick finished with 19 points but missed nine of 15 shot attempts, and Jrue Holiday tallied 12 but knocked down only 4 of 18 from the field.
Derrick Favors was restricted to 15 minutes, yet he felt like a net positive on the floor, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds, when compared to Jahlil Okafor’s performance. Oak may be one of the nicest guys in the league, but his defense has consistently hurt New Orleans effort to win games. For whatever the reason, he cannot guard pick and rolls properly, refusing to leave his man and give help when needed.
When Favors returns to full strength, many are hoping that he and Jaxson Hayes share all of the minutes at center going forward. It’s impossible to disagree with this, right?
The 76ers were led by Tobias Harris’ 31 points, and Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons each scored 24 points.
The Pelicans will return to New Orleans for a two-game home stand as they’ll face the Magic on Sunday and the Nets on Tuesday. You’ve got to think this losing streak ends against one of them, but I’m sure the players would prefer it come against Orlando — no one wants to be associated with the franchise’s longest losing streak in the record books!