New Orleans welcomed Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night at the Smoothie King Center, and mired in a five-game losing streak, the Pelicans entered the matchup desperate for a win. Unfortunately, the team left the contest more distressed than ever after bowing down to an opponent for the 15th time this season, following a thoroughly disheartening 118-97 loss.
The current six-game skid is New Orleans’ third losing streak in only 21 games. The Pelicans previously had suffered slides of four and three games, respectively. A few more weeks along this trend and it wouldn’t shock me if every remaining fan demands change, beginning with the figurative pitchforks currently pointed at head coach Alvin Gentry.
New Orleans surprisingly started the game strongly on the defensive end, holding Dallas to a mere 25% shooting in the opening quarter. The Mavericks poor shooting was a result of a solid effort by the Pelicans but also Dallas missed a few wide open shots.
Jrue Holiday was aggressive early on both ends of the court, symbolizing the Pelicans performance. Holiday scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half and New Orleans hung tough. However, just the Pelicans went quietly into the night in the second half, Jrue only scored 6 points after halftime, including only two points in the forgettable fourth quarter.
However, no one had a more peculiar night than Lonzo Ball. The Pelicans point guard wound up making just two of 12 shots from the field, but ten of those attempts came from three-point range. The entire squad didn’t shoot well from deep (11-41, good for 26.8%), but Ball decided to keep launching at every turn. Not a noted perimeter threat, Ball was given space to attack the paint on numerous occasions, but he settled time after time despite every clank off the rim.
New Orleans joined the rest of the basketball world in having no real answer for superstar Luka Doncic. The second-year player scored 12 of his 33 points in the first quarter. However, due to the Mavericks poor shooting the game was tied 24-24 at the end of the opening quarter. Other than an 11-point run at the start of the second quarter that was about as good as it got for the Pelicans. New Orleans lost every single quarter after that. Oh and it gets worse: The Pels lost pretty much every single statistical category in this game.
Just so I don’t have to type this all out, here’s a list of all the statistical categories the Pelicans lost Tuesday night: rebounds (51-47), offensive rebounds (10-9), defensive rebounds (41-38), assists (22-20), steals (5-4), blocks (8-4), turnovers (10-11), free throws attempts (27-15), free throw makes (23-10), and — oh yeah — points (118-97).
Remember: this game was played at home in New Orleans — so I guess the Pelicans took an L in the heart category, too.
Sadly, the biggest story in this game had little to do with the Pelicans as Doncic put on a virtuoso performance scoring 33 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 assists in a minuscule 28 minutes. Luka scored a whopping 15 points of those 33 points in the third quarter alone. Dallas claimed a 13-point lead by the end of the third quarter so Doncic never left the bench in fourth quarter with the Mavs having the game well in hand.
Basically, the 20-year-old could have easily dropped 50 and 20 on the Pelicans if the game was close enough for him to even bother re-entering. It’s pretty ridiculous what the young forward is doing in the Association right now and he is well-deserving of all the MVP talk. Good thing New Orleans will square off against Luka for a third time this coming Saturday, but before considering that, let’s ponder the following news heard on the TNT broadcast regarding Zion Williamson’s return to a basketball action.
As I reported on @NBAonTNT, Zion Williamson “turned a corner” this week. However, the team is erring on the side of caution and his return will “definitely” come outside of the 6-8 week window initially projected. #NOPvsDAL— Kristen Ledlow (@KristenLedlow) December 4, 2019
Despite the losing, all disgruntled fans have held fast onto the belief that they would soon see the top overall pick from the 2019 NBA Draft. Without a definitive timetable now, it’s anyone’s guess when we’ll see Zion suit up.
The Pelicans short bus will continue this Thursday when they face former Hornets/Pelicans head coach Monty Williams and his new team the Phoenix Suns. The game tips at 7:00 PM CST in the Smoothie King Center. Let’s see if their unlucky streak extends to lucky number seven, or if we’re given something positive to write and talk about for a change.