Eric Gordon Plays, Pelicans Look Sharp, Beat the Thunder

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Published: October 17, 2013
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I tend to be on the more cautious side of things when it comes to the Pelicans. I seem to be on the lower end of the win prediction spectrum; and I tend not to put too much stock into preseason displays and results.

But I’m setting that all aside tonight because the Pelicans 105-102 win over the Thunder tonight was damn impressive.

This was the first game where we saw the Pelicans projected starting lineup together. Take note, NBA, because they looked great. Monty Williams talked a lot this week about building “synergy” between the players. If he achieves that goal anytime soon then I may changing my mind about the team missing the playoffs.

Notes

–Eric Gordon looked absolutely phenomenal. This really can’t be understated. Just eye popping, jaw dropping great. It gets annoying to hear people defend Gordon when his injury reputation speaks for itself, but then he goes and has a night like this and totally redeems himself. Everyone who watched this game had at least one moment thinking, Oh yeah he’s really good isn’t he despite all the missed games?

His stat line is outstanding 21 points in 21 minutes on 9 shots. Without having played a game previously. Imagine what he can do when he gets fully back into shape? His aggressiveness in attacking the rim is something the Pelicans drastically need. Last season the team struggled to draw foul shots. Tonight, Gordon went to the line 8 times (making 7).

When he catches the ball and drives he is one of the better scorers in the league. If he takes 2 or 3 dribbles then pulls up for the jumper Gordon is much less effective. Hopefully he keeps this up.

–With more tools around him, Holiday focused on being a distributor in the first half and cut his turnovers down to only 2 on the night while putting up 8 assists in only 25 minutes. This is promising

Early in the game Monty ran a play which made perfect use of the players on the court and Holiday’s ability to drive to the rim. The Pelicans lines up in a “Horns” offensive set with Holiday at the top of the 3-point line, Davis and Stiemsma at the ends of the free throw line, and Anderson and another Pelican (I forget who) in the corners. Davis set a screen and then rolled to the basket. Nothing there. Stiemsma came over and set another screen which free Holiday to drive. When the defense rotated to help in the lane, Holiday fired off an easy pass for a wide open corner 3 which Anderson made. Beautiful set. I’m excited to see more offense like this.

–I don’t know if I’m cool with Stiemsma being the team’s starting center.

–I said in my preview that the story of this game was Aminu—had I know Gordon would have played like he did then that would have been the main story—and he did not disappoint. On offense he showed much more aggressiveness than in seasons past. Aminu has been working on his mid-range jumper this offseason but tonight he only took 2 of his 8 shots outside of the paint. A better shot selection is only going to make his offensive game more efficient, as well as hide some of his weaknesses such as ball handling.

Defensively he did a strong job matched up against Kevin Durant. Aminu stayed on him at all times and tried as hard as possible to use his length to make the former scoring champ’s life difficult. No one is going to mark Durant out of the game, and he did finish with 25 points on the night, but Aminu did as good a job as you’d expect from him. I’m happy with that. He’s show strong development this preseason. Oh and his rebound is still great as he grabbed 10 boards to finish with a double-double on the night.

–I liked what I saw from Austin Rivers until he bricked two free throws to ice the game at the end. At this point it has to be a mental thing and hopefully it’s something he can work out. Other than that, River and Roberts are forming a nice little backcourt off the bench. Rivers works much better as a ballhandler and Roberts is great on the catch and shoot or catch and drive. Monty has eyes so he better see this and continues to use both in those roles.

–And we get to Anthony Davis. I could wax rhapsodic about him but I think we all know how good he is and how good he will be. Davis struggled with stronger players like Serge Ibaka last season. Tonight, not so much. He kept Ibaka away from the rim and held him to 11 points in 29 minutes and only 4 rebounds.

On a few occasions he was matched up with Durant defensively and more than held his own. His length forced Durant to alter his shots and at one point he picked the ball right out of Durant’s possession and led a fast break down the court. Dude is just…special.

So forget its preseason and enjoy the win tonight. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

22 comments
xman20002000
xman20002000

On the real side....  Just wait until Holiday gets integrated into the system and its players....  We have a new starting PG....  Doc Holiday and EG....  just wait adding the bench players like Evans... this is AAU... with all this talent relatively young or young..  LOL
 

nolahog
nolahog

Just watched the highlights on NBA.com.  Again, I know it's only preseason, but this team will CLEARLY be better than last year.  We're definitely not going to be a team that anyone looks forward to playing.  The highlights looked great, and that was even without showing hardly any of the Gordon stuff mentioned in this article.

Halloween, and the start of the NBA season is right around the corner.  I feel Something Wicked This Way Comes. . .

504ever
504ever

For anyone who saw the game, how did Aminu score?

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Lets hope he plays a full season or towards the trade deadline for Deng or Granger.

xman20002000
xman20002000

I looked up Smith's injury last night hip impingement...  hope its not too bad...

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/hip-impingement-causes-treatments

And regarding EG...  I told you so...  Why would give this kid almost $60M if he couldn't play...  Remember not getting him might have been a deal killer with the Clippers....  Let's just pray he and his team mates remain healthy...  In the backcourt... Evans isn't even playing... 

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

Plus OKC was 9 of 12 from the 3pt line in the first half...and we were only down 56-52...that would have been more like a 12-15pt lead before...Pels only 7-20 on the game from 3pt land but still win...24-30 from the line including Rivers clunkers when it counted most...he was 2-2 before that

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

All this without Smith or Evans and with the Sniper Morrow lying in wait on the bench...pinching myself here....and by the way...Durant had 6 turnovers

DavidLBrown
DavidLBrown

I'm watching it on espn game cast cheering like its mid Feb and their on TV. I can't wait for October 30th.

mazonmafia
mazonmafia

nba.com still has the hornets teal on their website for the box score.

floaton
floaton

Is Jason Smith injured? Would rather see him start center than Stiemsa.

xman20002000
xman20002000

@504ever These young guys are feeling each other out...  We need to keep winning with us eventually scoring some teams off the court....  And you should see the size of Onuaku....beastmode...

Jake Madison
Jake Madison

In the paint mainly. Looked like he wanted to get to the rim. Only two of his shots came out of the paint.

xman20002000
xman20002000

@Papa Pelican Why both are injured and older....  EG played more games than Granger who makes the same money and is 30... the oldest player on the team..and Deng is out a lot....  Dude have you seen our backcourt...  Evans didn't play tonight....  OK...  and the Pacers have committed to Paul George...  EG is a beast...  I saw the game on Direct TV broadcast on a local network... 

Jake Madison
Jake Madison

Well, when he's injured and not active he technically can' play so...

But I don't think anyone has ever said he lacks the ability to play incredibly well. In fact most of our writers have said when Gordon's 100% healthy and engaged he's a top player.

thouse
thouse

@Pelican Poster 9/12 from 3 in the 1st half? :vomit: Haven't seen any of the games, but can anyone speak to the defensive system? Doubt Monty has shown much, but does it appear to be the same or have they made some tweaks with new talent?

mazonmafia
mazonmafia

@floaton From what I heard he is banged up a little.  Nothing serious but its better to rest and be 100% for the season.

Caffeinedisaster
Caffeinedisaster

@Jake Madison I'd still rather have Gordon, AFA, Rivers & Brow than Lamar, K-Mart and Scola in every sense of every planet of every universe. 


THANK YOU DAVID STERN!