The New Orleans Pelicans (6-22) dropped its 13th-straight game Tuesday night at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets (15-12) in overtime, 108-101, but not without a little drama added to the mix before, during and after the game.
Jrue Holiday: MVP, to available via trade, to …
Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said awhile back that Jrue Holiday was capable of being an MVP candidate this past offseason. Now the Pelicans are in the midst of a 13-game losing streak and rumors are starting to swirl that the All-NBA defender is available via trade among other members of this New Orleans roster.
Griffin was quick to address this topic that sprung from Marc Stein’s tweet during tonight’s matchup against the Nets by saying that the team’s position hasn’t changed at all. Referencing his time in Cleveland on the Fox Sports New Orleans broadcast Tuesday night, Griffin noted how timing and perspective link to these rumors. When everyone knew his Cavaliers were buyers, especially past the date where free agent acquisitions can enter the market (Dec. 15), media would report the team’s “interest” in available players based on that concept alone. Griffin is calling the same bluff here on recent reports — except the Pelicans aren’t winning and are seen as heavy sellers.
Holiday and Griffin actually shared a laugh together about the incoming reports yesterday. The two engaged in a conversation where a warning was given as to what rumors would soon come. Griffin knows the cycle at this point; it just wasn’t expected quite so soon. Nonetheless, Holiday believes what the front office has said in response, adding he’s only here for one thing.
“I’m here to play,” Holiday said. “I’m going to do that until I’m here or gone. When it comes down to it, I’m here to play basketball. I’m going to give my heart out every time I play. 40 minutes, 48 minutes or 10 minutes.”
Holiday posted a line of 21 points, six assists, five rebounds and two blocks in the loss.
Can’t buy a bucket
Back to basketball. The Pelicans-Nets matchup was without a doubt a defensive showing. Neither team could truly cash in consistently on any level of the floor. Brooklyn went 41.7 FG-28.2 3PT-73.9 FT as a whole on the night, while New Orleans one-upped their struggles at 34.3 FG-27.5 3PT-66.7 FT across the board. Starting for the first time in four games, Lonzo Ball went 4-of-13 with 10 points. Holiday and Brandon Ingram (22p/10r) put up a combined 51 shot attempts without either shooting north of 33 percent from the field.
“It was kind of a different coverage,” Ingram said of the Brooklyn defense. “They really did a good job with their schemes on the defensive end. I fed into it a little bit until the fourth quarter when I was more aggressive. […] I think I could’ve manipulated it a little bit better, but I think you always need one of these nights to just ramp it up and get back to doing good mechanics.”
Role players standout, then fade
Hayes, Hart and NAW.
Jaxson Hayes may have played his best stretch of basketball this season during the first half Tuesday night. The No. 8 pick from the last NBA Draft, always a needed energy boost, finished with 13 points, eight boards and two blocks. 11 of those points came within the first 24 minutes, leaving only two in the second half. Enjoy reliving his corner three and the reaction from tonight though, because Gentry (jokingly and seriously) says it won’t be a common occurrence.
Jaxson corner three?? Sounds good to us pic.twitter.com/AHDqMkvbsO— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 18, 2019
Although Josh Hart scored 14 points, he went 5-of-14 shooting on the evening. A perfect 4-for-4 start behind the arc gave him a quick 12 points but he went on to miss his next six attempts. His last three-point make gave the Pelicans comfortable separation to start the second quarter, but with the team failing to score over the final 7:28 of the frame handed the advantage back to Brooklyn.
Pelicans rookie Nickeil Alexander-Walker was quiet out of the gate, but posted nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in the second half.
Alexander-Walker did not play in the overtime period.
No 3Q collapse?
New Orleans has been prone to fall flat in third quarters throughout the course of this season, but not on Tuesday. The Pelicans matched their highest scoring period of the night at 29 points in the third, led by Brandon Ingram with eight points, as they out-scored the Nets by double digits.
Falling short in the clutch
Blame execution, blame the refs, blame whomever… but regardless New Orleans ended in a position that’s become all too familiar. Instead of closing out a win, the Pelicans lost their flow completely in overtime. Brooklyn protected the rim, covered the perimeter well and didn’t allow any rhythm to be manufactured against them.
With 2.7 seconds left in regulation, the lack of a shot clock violation pushed this contest into overtime. Gentry had asked for the play to be reviewed three times — to no avail — as a Nets shot never touched the rim yet the clock expired tied at 93 with the absence of a violation call.
Transcript: NBA Referee Kevin Scott Comments to Pool Reporter after Nets – Pelicans game. pic.twitter.com/SzKM1fY5KT— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) December 18, 2019
New Orleans fell 15-8 in the overtime period en route to another bitter disappointment. Six of the final eight points came from Ingram. Meanwhile, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie (31 points) heated up at the absolutely worst time for the home team. The 26-year-old contributed 14 points over the last 15 minutes, leaving the Pelicans with nothing to show.
“We have to find something tangible,” Gentry said. “I still think we’re competing and playing hard. It was probably our best defensive game against a team that’s really a good offensive team that shoots the ball well. I thought we were into the ball. I thought we did a good job in our rotations. They made some tough shots in overtime and down the stretch, but I didn’t think we got discouraged.”
Discouragement can’t be afforded. Not with a four-game road trip on tap. New Orleans now takes to the road to match up against the Timberwolves, Warriors, Trail Blazers and finally the Nuggets on Christmas Day.