clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pelicans sputter offensively, fall 110-96 to Thunder

New Orleans’ offense was missing in action in the first half

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The vibes were not good out of the gates. The outlook only got bleaker as the minutes ticked by on the game clock during the first half.

The New Orleans Pelicans fell 110-96 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a matchup that wasn’t as competitive as it should have been from start to finish — given the playoff/play-in tournament implications. (The Pels entered one game up on the Thunder in the standings.)

The Pelicans had the darnedest time scoring, amassing a meager 44 points in the first half. The problems went far beyond the shooting, which included a pitiful 38.1 field goal percentage and a 26.7 3-point percentage, or a 12-7 disadvantage in the turnover category, though.

  • The Thunder outscored the Pelicans 12-0 in fast break points in the first half.
  • The Thunder outscored the Pelicans 17-0 in points off turnovers in the first half.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had attempted as many free throws (nine) as the entire Pelicans team combined.
  • Jonas Valanciunas, Naji Marshall and Herb Jones all picked up three personal fouls each in the first half.

The sense of urgency was greater in the second half. The Pelicans won the third quarter by a 28-24 margin and then proceeded to cut the overall deficit to single digits multiple times in the fourth. Unfortunately, they never really threatened to get over the hump due to more self-inflicted wounds.

If it wasn’t a missed shot attempt, it was a turnover ending a possession. A sustained run didn’t feel like a real possibility, even in front of an eager crowd ready to play the part of a sixth man.

CJ McCollum led the way with a line of 26 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, four treys and five turnovers. It did, however, take him 20 shot attempts to reach that point total as OKC did a really good job of swarming New Orleans’ only real threat.

For the majority of the game, it was hard to decipher who else was ready to lend a hand with the scoring load. Jonas Valanciunas poured in 13 points in 16 minutes; however, his presence didn’t fit the up-and-down pace, as evidenced by a -12 plus-minus. Jaxson Hayes (11 points, eight rebounds, two blocks) was much better, compiling a -2 plus-minus in 31 minutes.

Trey Murphy and Naji Marshall each scored 15 points.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 35 points, six rebounds and four steals. He made all 13 of his free throw attempts.

The Pelicans have little time to ponder this loss. They’ll be back on their floor again tomorrow when they host the Portland Trail Blazers. They really could use Brandon Ingram, even if he’s operating at less than optimum health — they’re currently on the outside looking in of the play-in tournament, sitting 11th in the standings.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.