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Pelicans show lack of defensive commitment and pride in 123-112 loss to Pistons

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That’s three straight losses with the opponent having a great night shooting the three-ball

New Orleans Pelicans v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

After winning four straight to reignite hopes across New Orleans, the Pelicans are now on a three-game skid following Sunday’s 123-112 loss to the Detroit Pistons.

Once again, a combination of porous defense due to a lack of focused effort and hot perimeter shooting by the opponent decided a result.

This script is getting old.

Fast.

The Pelicans began this contest well, scoring 40 points in the first quarter behind 12 each from Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, but the Pistons finishing with 30 in the frame while missing 10 of 14 threes was a concern to me. True to form, that was a precursor to a shift in momentum to come.

New Orleans suffered through poor second and third quarters offensively while the Pistons caught fire from the outside. Coming into tonight, Detroit was 24th in three-point efficiency. They finished with 17 makes from three in 35 attempts. That 48.6 3PT% now stands as the Pistons’ best performance of the season.

So if we’re counting, the Bulls and Mavericks established new franchise records for made threes against the Pelicans and tonight the Pistons set a season-best for efficiency from deep — all in the past seven days.

“We didn’t play with enough defensive commitment and pride ... I don’t know how many of our guys have a defensive mentality.” — Stan Van Gundy to postgame media.

Looks like SVG and the troops are going to need to spend a lot of hours that they don’t have in the practice lab to correct all the breakdowns and achieve the required level of competitiveness.

It was interesting to hear that the head coach did seem to hint at possible changes to the rotation could be forthcoming in New Orleans.

Eric Bledsoe’s 1 for 9 shooting performance wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but his defensive effort was worse. To be honest, I was surprised he finished this game. On several occasions, it was evident he was failing to give any effort whatsoever in closing out properly or hustling after getting beat off the dribble. To be perfectly fair though, Ingram wasn’t very good defensively either, likewise with several of his teammates.

When the requisite effort’s there, as it was during the final few minutes of the third quarter — where Kira Lewis Jr came up with a couple of steals and Ingram took a good charge, New Orleans looks like a solid unit. But as it’s become all too commonplace on this road trip, those moments have been far too fleeting.

Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram finished this game with 26 points apiece, but following their hot first quarters, the level of difficultly scoring against Detroit increased. No matter a W/L record, when a team senses blood in the water in this league, expect for them to take advantage of the situation.

New Orleans Pelicans v Detroit Pistons Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Steven Adams posted a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Kira Lewis Jr. had 10 points, two assists and four steals off the bench. Kira was far from perfect defensively, getting beat on several occasions, but he did appear to show the competitive fire (Kira and Dennis Smith Jr. heated minutes were a thing) that SVG said was lacking overall in postgame.

Lonzo Ball had 13 points, four rebounds, three assists but five turnovers. New Orleans’ starting point guard showed cracks in the confidence armor, looking to pass when it appeared he had several free lanes to the rim and then having a sequence where he missed a lay-in right at the hoop and airballed a wide-open three.

New Orleans has one more chance to get a win on this trip Tuesday in a matchup against the Grizzlies in Memphis. Considering how poorly they’ve played on the road this season (7-5 at home vs 4-10 away), I think we all know where the smart money lies — even if Ja Morant is yet to beat the Pelicans in his career.

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