Elfrid Payton’s streak of five consecutive triple-doubles put him in the company with some of the greatest names to ever grace a basketball floor coming into Wednesday’s matchup.
Elfrid Payton joined Russell Westbrook and Michael Jordan as the only players in the last 35 seasons to record 5 straight triple-doubles pic.twitter.com/sDtXhRLQEh— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 19, 2019
Standing in the way of his quest for six stood his former team, and we quickly learned the playoff-hopeful Orlando Magic were in no mood for Payton’s history dance as they’re looking to create some of their own.
Orlando looked motivated from the tip, getting off to a 13-2 start, and they never looked back, reminding us of the matchup that looked eerily similar to the last game played between these two teams back in NOLA before the All-Star break.
Payton ended his night with only seven points, three rebounds, and two assists. Joining him in the struggle department was the entire Pelicans starting lineup in which no player surpassed nine points during meaningful minutes — Frank Jackson was subbed into garbage time duty and bumped his total up to 14 points.
Julius Randle, in particular, finished with arguably his worst night this season by going 1-for-9 from the field. He totaled as many turnovers as points (6) and added but three rebounds in 22 minutes.
Julius Randle takes a seat after picking up his third foul on a charge. He's already got 4 turnovers in 11 minutes.— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) March 20, 2019
But don’t only lambaste Randle’s production, his teammates weren’t far behind. As a team, the Pelicans shot a paltry 37 percent from the field and they were headed for a 30-point bludgeoning until garbage time in the 4th quarter provided some relief.
For the Magic, Aaron Gordon posted 20 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Evan Fournier led all scorers with 22, and Nikola Vucevic continued his annual dismantling of the Pelicans as contributed a double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds.
Now that we’ve gotten the facts out of the way, let’s get to some observations and key tidbits from the day in Pelicans news.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Anthony Davis was poised to join his teammates as he puts the finishing touches on his minute-restricted season. Less than ten hours before tip-off though, things suddenly changed.
Anthony Davis will miss tonight’s game in Orlando for personal reasons to attend to a family matter— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) March 20, 2019
We hope everything is good in his world and everybody is safe and secure inside the Davis family household.
The Rebounding Battle
Davis’ absence created a big void on the glass and helping with slowing down Magic star Nikola Vucevic. Vuc led all players with 17 rebounds but he wasn’t alone in displaying useful board work. Jonathan Issac finished his night with 10 boards and the Magic had six guys with at least five rebounds.
For the Pels, Cheick Diallo and Jahlil Okafor combined for 19 boards, and Kenrich Williams finished with seven. In total, however, the Pels were beat on the glass 65 to 49 including giving up 20 offensive rebounds. Not a very strong performance for a team very dependent on their bigs if victory is to be reached.
Looking for a bright spot from Wednesday’s blowout?
The Pelicans bench was the only part of the team that looked as if they hadn’t left their energy in back in Dallas. Stanley Johnson led all Pelicans in fact with 18 points in what was undoubtedly his best game in a Pelicans uniform.
Stanley Johnson with 10 points for the Pelicans. His previous high with the team was 5 points.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) March 21, 2019
His scoring outbreak didn’t affect the game much, but a confidence boost for him to go with a strong finish to the season could be huge for the Pelicans’ future roster plans.
The Pelicans will have a few days off before hosting the Houston Rockets inside the Smoothie King Center this Sunday.