Pelicans Fall to Phoenix Again

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Published: November 10, 2013
Monty WIlliams

For the 2nd time in 5 days, the New Orleans Pelicans were unable to handle the Phoenix Suns, losing 94 to 101. The Pelicans dropped to 3-4 with the loss.

Turnovers were a storyline from the start, and many of them looked really, really bad. The motto of the night was “leave your feet when passing,” as the Pelicans routinely got caught in the air with no options and wound up turning the ball over.

The defense was good early, as the Pelicans were forcing Phoenix into taking long shots, often without any sort of penetration. The Suns wound up going 7-22 from deep, and the perimeter defense was often as good as the stats indicate.

Unfortunately for the Pelicans, Markieff Morris had his cheat code on and burned the Pelicans for midrange J after midrange J. I am so tired of watching the Morris brothers tear apart this team. I don’t know how they’re doing it, but they always bring their best against us.. and it aggravates me to no end.

Oddly enough, the Pelicans did not manage to take a single free throw in the first half. It’s hard to blame officiating when the Pelicans aren’t attacking the rim, but it’s also hard to believe that an NBA team should ever go a half without a free throw. Monty Williams must’ve been in the refs’ ears before half, because the Pelicans managed to get into the bonus with over 7 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

The fourth quarter came and the focus went, as the Pelicans were outperformed down the stretch by the Suns. There were lucky shots, sure, like a running 10 foot Archie Goodwin bank shot, a 18 foot bank from Eric Bledsoe, and a desperation heave from Gerald Green for 3, but the Pelicans executed horribly and let the game slip through their fingers.

Notes

  • Austin Rivers was subbed in for Brian Roberts in the first half to defend Goran Dragic, who came off the bench in his return to the Suns lineup. Dragic torched Roberts in his few first half minutes with him, and Monty elected for Rivers’ defense over Roberts’ offense. Honestly, I think it was the right call, despite Rivers’ offensive struggles: Dragic was largely non-existent when defended by Rivers and Jrue Holiday.
  • I don’t understand why we continue to have Jrue initiate the offense when Bledsoe is defending him. His shooting was on, so his stats don’t look that bad.. but Jrue left his feet over and over, rarely drove past the free throw line, and was bothered by Bledsoe’s pressure all night long.. and that’s fine, because Bledsoe is a great defender. But why attack him? Gordon may have been off, but I’d rather Gordon get to the rim and fail versus Gerald Green than watch the offense stand around because the Pelicans are attacking one of the best perimeter defenders in the game.
  • Jason Smith had a great game. The Suns were collapsing on penetration and leaving him open, and he burned them time after time en route to a 22 point performance. He also had a ridiculous block on one of the Morris brothers. Smith wound up playing a whopping 41 minutes on the night.
  • The Pelicans lost players on backdoor cuts at some pivotal times in the game, and there were no rotations to cover the mistakes. The focus seemed to slip as the game went on.
  • Tyreke Evans played 7 minutes and he was bad in each one of them. Defenses are sagging off of him and he just doesn’t have an answer right now. This is partially due to his limited explosion, as he doesn’t seem to be in game shape or to have his explosion completely back after his injury. But make no mistake, this was a very poor performance by Tyreke, and I’m glad Monty sat him. It’s got to be better.
  • Anthony Morrow kept us in the game in the 4th quarter with his scoring, and it really wasn’t because of his 3 point shooting. He was driving to the rim and making unorthodox shots, shooting off of midrange curls, etc. Oddly enough, he had the lowest +/- on the night, registering a -11 in 28 minutes.
  • Anthony Davis had a relatively quiet night on offense, scoring only 4 points at the half. He got involved late, but wound up shooting a meager 5-13 for 14 points. His off-ball defense was again very good, as he posted a block and 4 steals.  He was once again a terror on the glass, collecting 12 rebounds (5 offensive) in his time.
  • Ryan Anderson is sorely missed. At one point, the Pelicans had a lineup of Roberts, Morrow, Evans, Stiemsma, and Thomas, and the offense looked beyond horrible. It is a simple fact of basketball that teams will sag off of players they don’t respect and help on the tougher ones, and having Thomas and Stiemsma on the same offensive unit just can’t happen. Monty quickly subbed in Smith to get rid of this lineup.
  • At the end of the first half, the Pelicans had the ball with 24 seconds left in the game and 17 left on the shot clock. After they missed their shot, they collected the rebound.. and didn’t burn out the clock. It wound up being okay, as a Sun missed the 3 to end the half, but this is inexcusable. NBA players should know better.
19 comments
xman20002000
xman20002000

Well let's let these guys just play ball...  Personally I don't think this team has identified its real leaders...  We don't have a CP3, Lebron, or Kobe...  and unquestioned team leader who takes over inside close games...  at least that appeared in part the problem last season plus scoring... WE have stars and potential All Stars but no real outspoken leader...  Who is the face of the team...  Davis... Gordon... Holiday...  Anderson.. Smith...  

Notwithstanding this last Suns game was the most boring to date... win or lose...  In the 4th quarter we needed that boost which comes from a strong will to win...  It didn't show up...   

GerryV
GerryV

Phoenix did a nice job lifting the weakside of the defense while running some back door cuts... It occupies the defenders and creates LONG help rotations.....

GerryV
GerryV

As I stated in my OBSERVATIONS post, Holiday needs to understand when to bail out of a play and simply probe the defense... Get to a gap or the circle and play from there .... Others must run to their bailout spots for kickoffs.... " let the play die a natural death" if he's getting pressure just attack and create.. It's those " random plays" that must be taken advantage of.... Let the play die.... At times he does the same thing in open floor attacks.... Get to the circle/ rim.. PROBE.

Nithenz
Nithenz

We never play 2 for 1 or consuming the clock in a clever way. Happened since last season (at least i started checking that at that time). I dont know if you can find 10 times last season were the team executed a 2 for one intentionally.

WesleySwinnen
WesleySwinnen

YES this was a tough loss. I was definitely throwing things in the 4th quarter, but we have to realize there are a lot of talented players on this team that are just learning to play with one another. I think come the end of the year this team will look a lot better. Remember, the Heat struggled once they got Lebron and everyone was asking for Spolster to be let go and here they are now with 2 rings and 3 trips to the finals. Not saying that's our future, all I'm saying is we can't over react every time we lose. Our 4 losses come from the Suns, The Pacers who are undefeated and the Magic who are also playing better than people expected. There absolutely are issues, but lets not break the egg before it hatches

504ever
504ever

I don't get all of this Monty is out stuff.  There are so many new faces on the roster Monty has to get a real chance to coach them individually and as a team. (And Dell can see where the players Dell brought in are today, warts and all.)

More importantly, I personally feel like this website was a big part of fan's overly high expectations.  In pre-season, at best it was clear this team was one we could reasonably expect to be in the playoff hunt for a good part of the season.  Yet most writers here were picking them to be a playoff team with around a 45 win record.  If the Pelicans had been picked to finish 11th in the West, where they are now, who would be complaining about Monty's coaching?  He would be meeting expectations.

It's time to adjust our expectation to meet reality, and figure we will be  a playoff team in 2014-15 who contends for a playoff spot for a while this year.  That's a huge step up from last year's 27 win team.

mojart
mojart

in dell i trust....but monty is really killing this team right now....slow pace basketball with this young of a team?....let the team run...this is an up tempo team......george karl or lionel hollins is on there way here?i do hope so....

LieutenantKumar
LieutenantKumar

I think I lose a year of my life every time someone not named Jason Smith shoots a mid range shot. That George Karl hype train is starting to sound attractive.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes moderator

45 was my call exactly. They are as close to 0.500 a team with 7 games played can be without a usable Evans and without Anderson.

I'm fine with that.

The Hornets went 8-0 in Monty's first year, then were up and down all year. My guess is a similar rollercoaster is ahead.

As far as influence, fans need to look at themselves when they overreact to good and bad. Monty and more deserves more praise than he gets in losses, more blame in wins. The agenda-driven fans drive me nuts. I hate losing and I hate bad analysis. Those guys spew the one in the event of the other. Nightmare.

Anyway, I'll be happy to redirect you to a couple of pieces I wrote that were considered too pessimistic by some.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara moderator

@504ever Hard to win with you. Say bad things about certain players last year and we are pessimists. Good things this year and we hurt the fan base by setting unrealistic expectations. Guess we can't do anything right. 

I think you give us too much credit for being able to influence people's expectations. They do that on their own. That said, I do personally agree that the goal should be playoffs in 2014-15 and this year should be a year where the team just concentrates on improving and the fans don't measure success in wins and losses. 

I won't really start worrying about this team until January of 2015. If they are still struggling at that point, I will jump on board with the "this team needs a drastic change" group. 

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

@504ever I don't think that it was just our writers with those expectations. With Davis playing the way he was in preseason, many national writers were predicting us to make the playoffs- and in the West, that means you're over .500. Is there really that big of a difference between a 41 and 45 win team? I don't think so.

Monty is not responsible for everything that goes on during games, but he is for part of it. The offense may look good on some stat sheets, but the flow has been bad so far. But Tyreke has been hurt and ineffective and Ryno has been out.. and moreover, this team is just starting to jell.

There is no rush to make final decisions about Monty's future with this team. Last season was one of finding talent, and this one is about finding out how it fits. I have never called for Monty's head and I don't believe any other writer on this site has either.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

@mojart Memphis ran a pretty slow pace w/ Hollins, I believe. Tempo is part of the problem. Sooner or later you're gonna have to create in the half-court, and the offense looks pretty bad when Holiday runs it.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

@LieutenantKumar I don't mind if Jrue is left open because he can knock those down or if Davis's defender isn't giving his jumper respect. But this slow offense creating midrange shots at end of clock? No thanks.

504ever
504ever

@Michael Pellissier Michael McNamara @JasonCalmes @504ever

First of all Miichael Mc, thanks for agreeing with me about expectations for this year and next.  I also want to ask you to remember how much we agreed last year. Further, where we most disagreed last year was over Lopez.  I would love to have Lopez back if for no other reason then to allow Smith to come off the bench and give us scoring, but In also like that our rebound rate was higher with Lopez on the floor last year.

All: I don't want any of you to think I am saying you intentionally set out to have nearly all of the writers predict the team making the playoffs, and some with very high seeds like 5th and 6th in the West.  But nevertheless the overwhelming majority of writers here made playoff predictions, and I think that affected fan expectations because we all hold you guys in high regard.  

Jason Quigley
Jason Quigley

@Michael Pellissier

So what possible coach do you think can run this team better (if Monty is out and an interim coach comes from somewhere other than assistants already in the organization)? I want to at least see how things turn out when Anderson comes back before throwing things and chanting to fire Monty, but it seems after this long of him being coach, it's not just the talent but his coaching that's been the problem. 

mojart
mojart

@Michael Pellissier @mojart maybe george karl or a alvin gentry....:)...i agree memphis ran a slow pace but their defense is really solid from perimeter to the interiro defense...and many said that monty is a defensive minded coach but i cannot see it this season

macs21
macs21

@LieutenantKumar How can you call for George Karl and then complain that we didn't draw any free throws in a follow up post?

I wasn't aware the coach was the one out there settling for mid-range J's instead of attacking the rim