Overall, I was pleased with what I saw. I have to retract a statement I made here last year that Gordon not only couldn't stay healthy but also wasn't that good of a player, either. He looked really good. Rationally, I'll hold my breath on the health issue. I was pleasantly surprised to see Aminu drain two midrange jumpers in a row and Davis was as advertised. On the negative side, Stiemsma seemed like a big downgrade from Lopez; hopefully this game was an anomaly, otherwise I hope the coaching staff can develop a current player or Dell can bring in a solid big in the next few years. And I never want to see a Rivers/Roberts backcourt again.
« Preview: Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans
The Golden Month and a New Beginning »
Heat Beat the Pelicans, Spoil Undefeated Preseason
The Pelicans first game on their home court started off about as well as anyone could have hoped. Despite a few lapses in communication — leading to easy buckets for the Heat– New Orleans had it going on early. A barrage of jumpers and three pointers toward the end of the first quarter left them leading the defending champs by a whopping 15 points only 10 minutes in.
Predictably, the Heat came back, but it was faster than most would have imagined. The Pelicans couldn’t manage a point in the final two minutes of the quarter and Lebron… well, LeBron could. He scored seven by himself, and with a couple of Birdman free throws the Pelicans lead shrunk to just six at the end of the first quarter.
One thing to note in the first quarter is the scoring balance that New Orleans has. While LeBron scored 11, double that of any of his teammates, the Pelicans had seven players score between three and eight points. If one or two players has an off night on offense, it won’t necessarily spell disaster for our winged friends, something that couldn’t be said during the Chris Paul-David West years.
The second quarter started much like the first one finished. In the last 1:59 of the first quarter and the first 4:15 of the second, the only Pelicans field goal was an Anthony Morrow jumper. As good as the offense looked in the first 10 minutes, it was equally bad during these six minutes. Austin Rivers added a free throw, but 3 points in 6:14 isn’t going to cut it most nights, and the lead predictably vanished. A four point deficit took it’s place.
Fortunately Anthony Morrow was lights out throughout the half. He drained a three pointer, made three free throws, and the lead re-emerged! 11 points on 5 shots ain’t bad, even if it is just half of a preseason game.
At the end of the half the Pelicans led 60-58. Jrue Holiday and Morrow led the way with 11, followed by Anthony Davis with 10 and Eric Gordon with 9.
Anthony Davis highlighted the third quarter with a thunderous smash that sent the crowd to it’s feet.
The Pelicans lead held until early in the fourth quarter, when they found themselves yet again held in check for a long stretch. Nearly eight minutes passed without a Pelicans field goal during the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth quarter. Eric Gordon was able to connect on a drought-ending layup midway through the fourth, but it was too little too late. The Pels made four free throws over that time period, but again, that’s obviously not going to cut it in the regular season.
As it was, that didn’t cut it tonight either. After the bucket the Pelicans trailed by 12, and that was all she wrote.
Greg Stiemsma played like garbage on both ends of the floor. He fouled a bunch, played crap defense, and generally deserved to be riding the bench. I hope this isn’t what we see from him too often in the regular season.
Eric Gordon looked good. He’s never going to be the elite caliber player who leads a team on his own, but if he can stay healthy and perform like this the Pelicans will either have a top notch number two player, or one hell of a trade asset. While his defense isn’t quite on the level I expected, his offense was a pleasure to watch.
Brian Roberts came in before Austin Rivers, played more than Austin Rivers, and played better than Austin Rivers. It’s fair to say that Roberts is higher on the depth chart, at least for now. That said, Austin did deliver a sweet alley-oop to Davis. Unfortunately for Rivers I can’t imagine Monty Williams gives a damn about alley oops.
This Anthony Davis fellow is pretty good, eh? Yet again he led the way on both ends of the floor, covering his teammates’ ass on defense and contributing an incredibly efficient 18 points on 9 shots, 8 boards, 3 steals, and 3 blocks, 3 assists and zero turnover. He passes, he shoots, he plays defense, he rebounds, and he leads. That’s what great players do for their teams, and that’s what Anthony Davis is already doing for the Pels at the tender age of 20. Screw the sky. Outer space is the limit for this bird.
Jrue Holiday was a bit off tonight, but he still contributed in a positive way. He’s an excellent passer once he leaves his feet, which is kind of a backhanded compliment. If you’re leaving your feet unsure of where the pass is going beforehand it’s typically a sign that you shouldn’t be jumping. Regardless, Holiday does it well.
Tyreke Evans didn’t play tonight, but his presence was felt. The bench struggled to find anything offensively. When Tyreke gets back the bench should at least be passable, not atrocious like it was tonight. It is worth noting that an injury to Goron or Evans could spell serious problems down the road if Monty doesn’t get more creative with his lineups.
Notes from the Arena
The Pelicans store was swamped, and inside the Arena there were few signs that this had at some point been a team called the Hornets. There were a handful of teal jerseys, hats and shirts, but those with Pelicans gear far outnumbered those with Hornets attire. In fact, the Hornets weren’t even the second most popular team in the building. Far more Nola-haters (Heat “fans”) were in attendance wearing Miami gear.
The Loge suites are pretty sick for groups of four. While I don’t love the view from behind the basket, it would be nice to have a swivel chair, tons of room to hang, snacks, drinks, a countertop, and two private televisions.
The Party Perch is also an excellent addition. When games start getting more competitive I imagine that the Perch will be popping. If you get there early you can actually get a two person table with a great view of the game. You don’t need to purchase specific seats to go to the Perch, so if you’re ever up for a stroll I’d recommend checking it out.
There are a bunch more food options available throughout the arena, and at first glance they appear to be an improvement on last years offerings. I counted four different types of mac and cheese for sale. I went with the chicken and artichoke mac, which was edible but not something I’ll order again.
The rest of the changes to the Arena were largely cosmetic, but the overall feel is superior. There are tons of accent lights which add to the ambience. I also feel like there are more TV’s around the arena than there were last year, but don’t quote me on that.
I think Evans would have made a big difference last night. The Heat were jumping all of the passing lanes because they had no fear of any of our guys beating them off the dribble. Roberts had a bad game tonight, and Steimsma struggled when asked to pass out of the high post area. I think we need more practice. . .
Who did we use to guard Lebron? Aminu i suspect. How did he do? is he a good enough defender to hang with the opponents best player for long stretches? He needs to be is he is going to play the roles of rebounder/ defensive specialist
I was wondering what the new sound effect would for the welcome, tip off and start of the second half. I like it.
Sorry, but if we have Roberts running backup PG this year, all that talent on the 2nd unit isn't going to mean diddly freaking squat. He earned every single bit of his -18 +/- tonight and I'm not sure how you can say he outplayed Austin, as Austin barely got to play. The play where Austin drove past his man to collapse the D at the line where he kicked out to Anderson was the best play on offense between the both of them tonight (even though Anderson missed). We also are neglecting the fact that Roberts couldn't D up on ANYONE during that run in the 2nd half by the Heat.
I was there at the game, all I can say that the team's progress is good, but not there yet. The depth in the backcourt is great and I have to say, there is a little ying/yang in Morrow and Aminu. Morrow's performance tonight pretty much won him a place as being 7th or 8th player in the rotation.
The rest of the frontcourt, excluding Davis, is left to be desired. Right now, I fear that a trade for a big man would is very likely to happen sooner than later. The Asik- Anderson trade is a catch 22 for Demps in which giving Anderson to the Rockets is like giving them a chance to make a deep playoff run. I really think that Dell would have to pull some strings in order to make sure that the Noel trade was a great deal.