The Pelicans played perhaps their most impressive 48 minutes of the season tonight, leading throughout the game, finishing 120-90 over the Toronto Raptors. Confidence throughout Pels fandom is, let’s say, bubbling beneath the surface. Not sure what happened with the Raps tonight, but New Orleans’ defense deserves a ton of credit.
Immediate impact: the addition of All-Star-caliber CJ McCollum (his 3rd game as a Pel tonight), who had 23 points on 9-13 shooting; four rebounds, five assists, two steals helped. His calm and playmaking kept things going in the fourth during a blowout, too, helping to ensure true *relaxing* garbage time.
The Pelicans totaled 36 assists, a new team-high this year. They shot 58.4 percent from the floor, 44.4 from 3s, and basically never had a cold spell. Brandon Ingram had 10 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists, but you had to see it. He was great. When he blocked FVV’s shot to end the third quarter, the game was effectively over 94-69 and he hardly celebrated it.
Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Rookie starter Herb Jones had 11. Jaxson Hayes, long ago destined for the deep-bench or worse, was ultra efficient in 20 minutes, finishing everything around the hoop for 14 points. Tony Snell made his first shot as a Pel and finished with eight. I think the King Cake Baby had five points.
In other words, BRING ON THE GRIZZLIES, we’re feeling good.
How It Went
Toronto enjoyed clanking shots tonight, especially early as they fell behind 15-4 and 36-19. Their only salvation for much of the first half was offensive rebounding, grabbing 13 of their 36 (!!!!) first-half misses. The Pelicans used these misses to discover a consistent flow to their offense. They had 16 assists in the first half and practically the whole roster made positive impacts in the game. Jaxson was good; Temple was energized; Snell hit a couple shots; Alvarado, oh boy, Alvarado.
workin— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 15, 2022
Welcome to NOLA Tony! pic.twitter.com/auV4RYCafI
The ACC-All Defense man was pesky and pesty and a little zesty in the lane. In the final 2:35 of the first quarter, his first shift of the night, Jose used an aggressive and fast dribble drive to draw a foul out of nothing; blocked a 3-point attempt by All-Star FVV which led directly to a Pelicans 3 (above); drove into the forest, got stuck in no man’s land, but used his creativity and footwork to draw a foul.
Brandon Ingram Team Player
What’s your lineup for 2022-23? It’s all I can think about.
What about BI at the 2 with JV, Zion, Herb, and CJ at the point? The league may or may not be trending back to jumbo lineups, so how about Jaxson instead of Herb? LOL How about Herb, BI, Trey, Zion and JV? Or, or, or wait: what about Zion, BI, Trey, Jax and JV? I just really want every Frankensteined combo possible.
Anyway, here’s something relatively simple that BI can do to ensure enough passing and playmaking to sustain this many bigs: this look-away penetrating pass to Herb Jones starts the ball rolling on this possession.
Gotta Say It
Herb gets a brutal whistle. I’ve seen too many great defensive possessions by him guarding someone on-ball. He’s in lock-step with each, well, step. He’s avoiding prohibitive contact. He’s doing what he needs. And then some final fling by a defender — I thought these were outlawed this year?? — lends the refs eye to blow for a whistle.
Then again, he also poked Pascal Siakam in the eye tonight and got away with it.
Herb Jones puts his finger in Pascal's eye. Pelicans ball. pic.twitter.com/NZg4TtRaXf— Pascal Propaganda (@PascalFanClub) February 15, 2022
Let’s Poke the Grizzlies next!