The New Orleans Pelicans hit a wall on Saturday night.
After enduring the Anthony Davis saga since the last few days of January, the team playing their sixth game in 10 days, and then on the second night of a back-to-back — against the Grizzlies inside the Grindhouse no less — the Pelicans lacked their usual oomph in Memphis and it showed up in the final boxscore. New Orleans fell by a score of 99-90 as they simply couldn’t get anything to drop through the nets.
For the game, the Pelicans shot 39.5% from the field, establishing a new benchmark for the worst shooting performance on the season. Only one other time has New Orleans failed to eclipse the 40% plateau and that came against the New York Knicks (39.6%) in late November.
Following the game, Alvin Gentry lamented the fact that the team got away from the solid ball and player movement we had witnessed throughout the first quarter as the reason for the poor shooting.
“We took ourselves out of what was working for us and was very beneficial at the start of the game which was ball movement and player movement,” said Gentry. “And because of that, we shot the ball poorly because the shot selection wasn’t the greatest. Even when we had a good shot, we didn’t shoot it in the basket.”
I think the head coach hit the nail on the head with his last sentence here. New Orleans made just 6 of their 33 three-point attempts (18.8%) and 16 of 27 free throw attempts (59.3%). A lot of those deep looks were of the open variety, and of course, charity stripe trips come defender free.
No, I honestly felt the biggest factor in the loss was that the Pelicans just didn’t have the legs or requisite focus on this particular night. Just recall some of those wild shots from in close: Frank Jackson missing a few gimme layups to Julius Randle flinging the ball sharply off the glass when he was at the rim. Also, E’Twaun Moore, who was playing for the first time since January 26, clearly looked to be out of game shape.
Thus, it was mildly surprising to see Anthony Davis finish with only eight field goal attempts in 34 minutes. Some might argue he’s just getting back into the swing of things, too — and he did admit to media last night that his legs felt a little heavy afterwards, but in witnessing him toy with the Timberwolves last night (32 points on 11-15 shooting in 25 minutes) and New Orleans struggling immensely after the first quarter, tonight would have been a good opportunity to force the action a little more.
Either way, I don’t want to start any conspiracy theories because Davis DID show great effort, from diving on the floor to chase a loose ball early to running back defensively in transition to almost notch an important block halfway through the fourth.
Among the good news: Jrue Holiday posted 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists — with Avery Bradley largely hounding him all over the floor, Kenrich Williams oozed more hustle on his way to a line of 10 points, 13 rebounds (six offensive), seven assists and one highlight worthy block on Joakim Noah — who led the Grizzlies with superior hustle of his own (19 points, 14 rebounds), and Julius Randle battled for 21 points and six rebounds.
For those eagerly eyeing draft lottery balls, the loss ended the Pelicans two-game winning streak and New Orleans now sits six games in back of the Los Angeles Clippers and the eighth spot in the Western Conference with a record of 25-32.
Up next, the Pelicans return home and get two days of rest before hosting the Orlando Magic on Tuesday inside the Smoothie King Center.