Pelicans crack as Pacers ratchet up pressure

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Published: October 31, 2013
Eric Gordon

The Pelicans came out strong with their guards attacking the paint, getting fouled and finding shooters.  Within a few minutes, they had put Hibbert on the bench with foul trouble, made Mahinmi look out of his depth at the rim, and were rolling to a nice 16 point lead.

Then the Pacers got Hibbert back on the floor, their defense tightened as they shifted Paul George to Eric Gordon and with Jason Smith fouling everything in site and Ryan Anderson not available, the Pelicans began to struggle to find their easy looks.  The Pacers, however, just kept executing, chipping away, drilling open threes, and stole the lead in the end.

I’m not upset by the effort – the team is still a work and progress and figuring things out – but let’s start with the Pelicans who formed their Bomber Wing tonight:

Jrue Holiday

24 points on 18 shots, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and a pair of turnovers from the new starting point guard.  The most important two elements of his game, though?  He was the only Pelican during the last four minutes of that game who looked completely composed and took the shots that were presented to him.  As the Pacers mounted their comeback – it was Jrue anchoring the penetration and the scoring to keep the Pelicans from falling out of the game.  Gordon was the most explosive to the rim – Davis had some vital plays around the rim – but Jrue Holiday was steady and composed.  I had no issues with him starting the attack.

Defensively too – I can’t tell you how happy I felt to see the Pelicans lead guard successfully cutting off options available to the opponent’s lead guard.  Jrue showed quick feet and anticipation, jumping pick and rolls and recovering – pushing Pacer guards away from the middle of the floor.  It was a huge upgrade.

Eric Gordon

He’s clearly healthy and a monster driving to the rim.  He still had a couple shots with his patented cross-over-sidestep-deep jumper – miss! routine, but I didn’t care.  He was burying catch and shoot jumpers, driving and attacking, and gave us everything we were hoping for when we traded for him.  25 points on 19 shots for Eric, including 3-5 from deep and nine trips to the free throw line.

Anthony Davis

He’s damn serious about this season.  He was trying to make an impact from the start of the game, fighting gamely against David West in the paint, barking at officials, and talking non-stop.  He attacked the basket more freely in situations where last year he would have passed the ball.  He also was attacking Scola and David West off the dribble, blowing by both of his slower-footed opponents.  His first step is very quick, and that was usually enough to get his opponent on his hip so he could get a shot off.   He did miss a few shots I expected he would finish normally, but he also put down a monster alley oop and was operating in the flow of the offense.

Defensively, it’s crazy how quickly he can cover ground.  His ability to show and recover on the pick and roll was excellent tonight – and if he wasn’t stuck playing long minutes with Stiemsma and Onuaku, who were a bit on the clueless side when it came to rotations, the Pelicans interior defense would have been very tight with him sealing cracks.  Davis finished with 20 points on 20 shots, 12 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 blocks and 38 minutes.

Other Observations

  •  The question was answered as to which guard was going to be bench-bound.  Austin Rivers didn’t see a minute of gameplay, as Brian Roberts claimed backup point guard minutes.
  • Well, maybe they weren’t back-up point guard minutes.  Roberts spent very little time as the primary ball handler out there – as the second unit mostly started with the ball in Evans hands.
  • I was worried about Gordon dealing with Hibbert.  I was focusing on the wrong guard.  Evans kept getting himself into trouble when he drove – and ended up late in the game settling for mid-range jumpers.  It goes without saying that is not playing to his strengths.
  • Jason Smith did not play a smart game.   When he was spacing the floor from mid-range the offense was a thing of beauty.  Then he started fouling everything.  Hibbert, West, George, women and children in the crowd, Tom Benson, Frank Vogel.  You name it, he fouled it.
  • I’m not sure I like the new Mascot.  He looks a little like a demented Yeti.  Actually, the first thing that entered my mind was “Owlbear” but that’s totally a Dungeons & Dragons reference and I’m way too cool to talk about that.
  • Three players with 20 points or more.  Everyone else put up 21 with 12 coming from the bench.  With Smith in the starting line-up, Anderson out 1-3 weeks with a bone chip in his foot, the offensive power of the bench is severely impaired.
  • Lance Stephenson has a bit of crazy in him – and throws a lot of elbows.  He put on a clinic, however, every time Anthony Morrow checked into the game.  Morrow simply couldn’t get free.
  • Is it too early to beg Monty to try Withey out – just so we don’t have to see much more of Stiemsma and Arinze Onuaku?
  • Evans did spend a good 12-13 minutes guarding small forwards tonight – and he did a decent job.  I felt bad for him a few times covering Paul George, who simply never stops moving.
  • Aminu had some nice defensive moments tonight.

Pelicans matched the Pacers with points in the paint and had 8 more fast break points than their opponent.  The first number is good.  The second actually needs to be bigger.  The team ran some in the first half, but in the second, that game became a grinder.  This team can’t play at that pace.

Next game is Friday against the Magic!

26 comments
jayanderson21
jayanderson21

I felt like we had matchup issues at the end.  I would have rather seen a lineup of Jrue/EG/Tyreke/Aminu/AD out there at the end.  We would just have to shift Tyreke to covering Paul George, Aminu to West, and AD to Hibbert, which could cause some issues.  I think Monty did ok substituting offense for defense when he could, though.  And I really like the AD iso at the end.  Like someone else said, it shows confidence in our future superstar.

Definitely need to acquire a 4th big somehow.  Hawes would be great.

Caffeinedisaster
Caffeinedisaster

Jrue is really smooth.  So smooth that almost no one noticed him welcoming everyone to the Pelicans game on behalf of himself and the rest of the SIXERS!!!

Major504
Major504

I'm not  happy that they lose, but it a good learning experience. After having a good preseason they were riding high, but tonight showed them that it's real and they have to stay focused. They we riding high but that was a humbling lose. Orlando may be in trouble tomorrow tonight, I will be at that game to see it happen.

And tonight showed why we won't trade Ryno. Pels only shot 11 3s, Ryno can do that alone.

JodyHarrison
JodyHarrison

Stiemsma stinks. I truly think Withey should get more minutes than Greg. He had some great years at Kansas. Defense with a little offense is what we need out of the 5 spot. I think Jeff has a chance to grow with this team and make a significant impact going forward.

veezyv
veezyv

Im seriously worried that Ryan Anderson is going to get traded.  Too many people are talking about this asik trade and we seriously need a Center.

504ever
504ever

I do find this game disappointing.  We were playing at home against a quality team, but they were on a back-to-back.  This was a real chance for a Pelican's win, even without Anderson.  What was disappointing was the play of everyone but the New Big Three, Holiday, Davis, and Gordon, and the New Big Three needs more support for the team to be successful.  

What was especially disappointing was the play of, and need to play (for 37 total minutes), Stiemsma, Onuaka, and Thomas.  A healthy Anderson will only play a few minutes at C; and most teams will have more mobile centers, which will give Stiemsma in particular even more trouble. So this team will have trouble at the C spot until a trade or signing occurs.  [I hope Okafor gets bought out and we sign him, which is McNamara's thought.]

What this game reminds me is all of the recent talk of the Pelican's being a playoff team is about as predictive as all of the talk about about the significant minutes Rivers will get in the rotation.  To be a playoff team, I believe we need to get better at the Center position, get (or grow) a stronger bench, and individual players need to learn to adjust their games when a key player is injured.  I can't say this won't happen this year.  I can say that it hasn't happened this year, and it looks far away

Hank_
Hank_

I anything I think this game proved how pivotal Ryan Anderson is to this team, the second unit, and Tyreke Evans. I couldnt help but feel bad for him when he was on the floor playing with the likes of Brian Roberts, Anthony Morrow, Arize Onuaku, Lance Thomas, and Greg Stiemsma. How can anyone expect him to get to the rack when the bigs cant space the floor at all. The reason Hibbert and Mahinmi were able to pick up so many blocks is when Davis and Smith were off the floor they were able to guard self-checks in Stiemsma and Onuaku. 

When we had our starting unit on the floor the handled West and Hibbert extremely well. Made me think that I might rather grab another big that could stretch the floor and basically play the inside out game and just try to completely run the in and out game. A guy that comes to mind as a fourth big could be Spencer Hawes. Im sure the 6ers are shopping him and hes played with Jrue for 3 years. In my opinion it would be a perfect fit and make us nearly unstoppable on offense

LaNative
LaNative

It was a hard-fought game against a team that's played together and has chemistry.  Ryan's injury really hit hard.  I don't mean to be harsh, but I am hard pressed to see value in Stiemsma.  When Smith & Reid of NOLA.com addressed the Withey playing question, they felt like he is a D League project.  I totally disagree. I love the fire of Anthony Davis and he's showing that he is gonna be great in the Association.  

Caffeinedisaster
Caffeinedisaster

I thought the defense was great in the first half, we just settled for jumpers much of the time and they didn't fall.

The second half the defense lapsed and the Pacers got to the hole.

Oh yeah......and Paul George caught fire.

I was very happy to see Jason starting.  It spaced out the offense more.

That Davis kid played some great D against one of the more brutal PFs in the league.  In the end we had the same problem as last year:  closing out games.

DavidLeBoeuf
DavidLeBoeuf

We are already one big short, and without Anderson tonight, we were two bigs short.  I doesn't necessarily have to be a "Center," but this team is one big away from being pretty damn good.

RafaBrazil
RafaBrazil

Come on, no shame in losing our very first game against a title contender that managed to keep their core together and figure to be improved this season. We can strike a little streak within the next games, let's not take the season opener as such a preview of the hole season! Anderson was really missed as well. This will be a great year for all the Pelican nation!

nin10doe
nin10doe

Roy Hibbert's the only player in the league that gets the 2 for 1 foul treatment. Commit 2 fouls for every 1 that actually gets called. The guy fouled out about 4 times in this game. 

We'll be really good if they attack the rim every game like they did vs Indy. Those are dunks/layups or fouls vs non-Hibbert refs.

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

These Pelican'ts have trouble at center.The Steamer stinks,Smith is better off as a reserve and it's time to trade anderson for Asik sorry this team can't go any futher without a true center.They blow a 7 point lead and Monty being the stubbon coach that he is want Davis to go for the shot Davis is no cluch player Holiday or Gordon would be the ones for the final shot.Monty is on the hotseat forsure sorry.

nolahog
nolahog

Good game by the Pelicans.  Pacers made some big shots at the end.  Ryan Anderson was sorely missed.  I was shocked that Lance Thomas was on the floor at the end of the game, but I can understand Monty being a little nervous about Steimsma being out there as well.  Overall though, I thought the team looked good.  The defense was no pushover, and I thought Holliday was very solid on both ends of the court.  Gordon looks great, and Davis is on the cusp of self actualization.  If Ryno plays, I think we win that game, comfortably.

Caffeinedisaster
Caffeinedisaster

@veezyv I wonder if Dell could swindle them by giving up Stiemsma and Withey for Asik?


Camby's got waived.  They need a backup center and they've been starting Asik @ PF to console his ego.

dxxpxx
dxxpxx

officiating definitely seemed one-sided

Caffeinedisaster
Caffeinedisaster

@Papa Pelican If we could get Asik AND Parsons I'd say pull the trigger, even though Rhyno is one of my favorite players on the team.

Other than that, I wouldn't trade him.

504ever
504ever

@Papa Pelican 

I agree Center is a big problem, I just don't agree an Asik for Anderson trade is the answer.

ByronMarcusWashington
ByronMarcusWashington

I'm sorry but that is definitely not the problem. From what I saw we were really missing anderson and you suggest we permanently get rid of him for a non scoring center that doesn't really do well in any offense (great on d) not a good idea in my eyes. As far as davis taking the final shot, I like an iso for our future star, it shows confidence in him from coach , he just needs to work on his decision making a little more he could have passed for an open shot.

veezyv
veezyv

@Caffeinedisaster @veezyv I don't really want the trade but if it has to be done, than we most def have to get motiejunas or jones too

RafaBrazil
RafaBrazil

@Caffeinedisaster @RafaBrazil hauhauahua I meant WHOLE, it was like 7 am here in Brazil when I wrote it, I was heating up the engine in my head... Agree with you, had enough of lottery picks, let the 6ers handle that!

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

@dxxpxx Agreed...can't tell you how many times it seemed we got hit with ticky-tack fouls while our guys were being mugged, pushed, forearmed with few whistles called...Holiday definitely a leader on the court and a cool customer...his theme should be "smooth operator" from Sade...