Halfway through the first quarter, the Pelicans held a 20-6 lead over the Timberwolves. Zion Williamson had nine points on 4-4 shooting and the Timberwolves looked disengaged. It felt like New Orleans was on their way to an easy victory, something that would be especially useful on the first night of a back-to-back.
The script couldn’t have changed more abruptly and turned out any more differently.
After New Orleans built a 26-10 lead with 4:03 left in the first frame, the Timberwolves proceeded to dismantle the Pelicans, going on a 125-79 run the rest of the game to win going away easily.
Awful basketball. Just a disgusting spectacle. Pick your choice of negative connotation.
“What we’re putting out there defensively is embarrassing ... We didn’t compete tonight.” Stan Van Gundy said to postgame media.
That truth works, too.
In giving up 135 points at home, the Pelicans failed to up a professional fight over the final three quarters. Minnesota outscored New Orleans 40-26 in the second quarter and then followed that up with a 38-22 drumming of the Pels in the third. Who cares about what transpired in the fourth because everyone sitting inside the Smoothie King Center stopped caring long before that.
The T-Wolves’ 135 points tonight are the most they’ve scored since 3/3/20, against...the New Orleans Pelicans.— David Grubb (@DMGrubb) March 12, 2021
The Pelicans lacked the desire to stop the bleeding. They got punched in the mouth and failed to show the necessary heart to stand back up. And now the team sitting in the cellar of the Western Conference is 2-0 on the season versus New Orleans.
There’s probably not a factoid more apt in expressing how disappointing this season has felt to date in a nutshell.
An opponent that struggles to shoot the three-point shot (34.6 3PT% — 26th entering tonight’s matchup), made 19 of 40 looks from deep. The Wolves tallied 31 points off 18 Pelican miscues and were allowed to score too many points in the paint (56) considering that 57 points came via the three-ball.
Anthony Edwards, the first overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, scored 27 points for the Wolves. That’s not wildly unexpected. But what’s disturbing is that Jaylen Nowell led the Wolves with 28 points off Minnesota’s bench and fellow reserve Jaden McDaniels torched the Pelicans defense for 20 points, too.
This, in a game where Karl-Anthony Towns was held to 16 points on 7-19 shooting thanks to some individually solid work by Steven Adams.
After the Timberwolves decided to start playing in earnest, there was no resistance by the Pelicans. None whatsoever. The Pelicans folded as quickly as a deck chair in a hurricane.
Speaking on behalf of all those who live and support NBA basketball in this region, tonight’s performance was wholly unacceptable. Coming off an All-Star break where player batteries should have been recharged, with this game played at home, against one of the worst teams in the league? Yeah, that can’t happen.
Who else is tired of watching this team hit new low after new low on the season?