Pelicans Get Their Biggest Victory of the Year, Defeat Blazers 110-108

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Published: December 30, 2013
Game Recap Win 3

At some point, you have to get over the hump. After numerous games against top-tier teams that saw the Pelicans fizzle late, they took the next step by defeating the Blazers 110-108 tonight. The Blazers didn’t seem to miss down the stretch, but the Pelicans remained unfazed and responded with big shots of their own. Jrue Holiday was especially clutch, scoring 8 of the Pelicans final 12 points (should have been 9, but the refs…. Ugh, don’t get me started..) to help secure a crazy back and forth game.

Jrue Holiday assisted on one of the other baskets (an AD layup) late, but the final shot was all Tyreke. With ten seconds left in the fourth and the Blazers down three, Damian Lillard hit a shot from Siberia to tie it up at 108. Monty Williams decided not to call a timeout, just like he did earlier in the year against Golden State, and this time it paid off. Tyreke Evans got isolated on the right wing, jab stepped and rose up for a jumper….Splash! Pelicans up two with 1.2 left on the clock!

Monty wisely put Ajinca on the inbounds passer and the Blazers had to settle for a LaMarcus Aldridge 20-foot fadeaway, which fell short. Pelicans win! And you know what, it was well deserved. They led for most of the game, and were victims of some horrible calls down the stretch, but still found a way. This team is growing right before our eyes, and they aren’t even at full strength yet. A road trip lies ahead, but this team has been competitive both at home and on the road lately. And now that they have experienced what they need to do to get over the hump, I’m betting that they do it more often than not from here on out.

Other Notes and Observations

– If the Pelicans would have lost this game, I was going to go on my first Monty Williams rant. And you know what, a win shouldn’t keep him from getting called out. At this point, playing Brian Roberts is indefensible. The Pelicans entered the fourth quarter up by 7, but then here was the sequence: Roberts and Evans can’t connect on a pass – turnover. Brian Roberts traveling. Brian Roberts bad pass, turnover. Holiday missed jumper. Then, Roberts missed pull-up three on a fast break. All of a sudden, the game is tied at 89, with less than 3 minutes gone in the 4th. Pelicans call timeout.

You can’t play him, you just can’t. And its not like it is Dell’s fault, and Monty has no options. He has Rivers. He can stagger Jrue and Evans, so one of them is always at the point. I don’t care what you do, just DON’T PLAY ROBERTS, under any situation, EVER!

– Damian Lillard is amazing offensively. Kid can’t play a lick of defense, but he is the best overall jump shooter I have ever seen. Not hyperbole. That is my honest opinion.

– Moving forward, I just want to see AD one-on-one with Aldridge all game. No help, no double teams. If he goes for 40, fine. But the Pelicans can beat this horrid Blazers defense, and the only way the Blazers can keep up is if they hit their three’s. I would prefer 20-footers from Aldridge all day, even if they usually drop.

– Best line somebody sent me on Twitter tonight:

 

– Its amazing when a guy goes for 27 and 12 with 5 blocks and is overshadowed by two teammates, but that is what happened to AD tonight. He was clumsy on his drives against Lopez, but he stayed active and got some easy dunks and a few big jumpers. But I hated his effort boxing out on free throws. He assumed Blazers would make them, and they usually did, but on one they missed and the Blazers got the board and followed up with a three. Unacceptable. And lucky for him, they didn’t miss more because this happened multiple times.

– Aminu has been so good lately. Just so good. Tonight he ran the court, rebounded tremendously, and was always deflecting passes. If he plays like this, I give him a three or four year deal this summer. I just hope he isn’t teasing us again.

– Best Description for the Blazers: They are that kid you play online in NBA2K who doesn’t play a lick of defense, but knows the perfect release point for all his shooters.

– I have seen a few people say that the Pelicans are better w/o Gordon and that is just crazy. Imagine Gordon getting the 33 minutes that Morrow and Roberts got tonight. They went 2-7, played bad D, and had 3 turnovers to just 1 assist. Gordon gets those minutes, and this game is a blowout. Would they be better with three good role players instead of Gordon? I think so. But they are not better off simply without him.

– Greg Stiemsma returned tonight. That is all.

– Ajinca played. And I’m done.

– Monty seemed to put Rivers in during stretches where he was trying to get stops. Good defense from Rivers and he provided 4 points on 1 shot. Now, if he can just get whatever blackmail photos Roberts has of Monty, we’ll be doing great!

– Anderson was used mostly as a decoy tonight, and while he scored only 13 points, you gotta imagine that the paint was so open because of him. And the Pelicans scored 68 in the paint. SIXTY-EIGHT.

– Shame Tyreke struggled so much early on in the season. He would be in the conversation for Western Conference All-Star if he didn’t. I will say it again, NBA Comparison: Bigger Rajon Rondo.

– Ryan and I will finally be taping a podcast tomorrow night. Drop any questions you might have below.

52 comments
Sir Brow
Sir Brow

I know this game was a couple days ago but im still geeking out about it. One of the best games i've ever been too for sure. 


Also don't know if anyone saw this quote on NBA.com, but this is exactly the kind of talk I want out of our superstar. It might help to explain some of the miscalls tonight as well. FEAR THE BROW

"I told the ref, when he said he had seen him elbow me, I said, 'Don't call it. Let us fight. We are going to fight tonight.' So, there weren't many calls on me and LaMarcus unless it was blatant. Other than that, we were fighting. I said it was going to make both of us better and he said I was right. So we just battled all night." 
-- Anthony Davis, on his physical matchup with Aldridge


lawstar
lawstar

Happy New Year to ALL!   Go Pels!

xman20002000
xman20002000

I am not at all surprised at how this team is evolving...  Beating the Blazers is a welcome booster for us and Coach's last team...  We could have never accomplished what we are morphing into with Lopez and Vasquez starting..  Now we do have a big time foul giant in Ajinca... and hopefully its his having to adapt to the US rules again..  It will be also interesting to see how we rotate our Bigs and a reason for cutting Amundson..  with no offense...AT All

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Replacing CPME took two years but Holiday was worth the trade.

nolahog
nolahog

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. . . I LOVE the Holliday trade!  This guy is even better than I thought he'd be.  Top tier defender, and his offense is really starting to blossom now that he's getting comfortable with his teammates.  The dude can straight up BALL.

Also, props once again to the one man fast break, Tyreke Evans (maybe I'll just start referring to him as OMFB).  I hadn't thought of it before, but the comparison to Rondo is pretty accurate.

Finally. . . I had to miss the game because I was traveling last night, but I watched the highlights on NBA.com this morning, and I saw that Sean Payton was at the game.  I fell out of my chair laughing when it showed Payton cheering and pumping up Evans after he made the game winner (presumably telling him something like "FINISH STRONG LIKE YOU DO, BOOOYYYYYYYY!!!!").  Check out 2:24 of the video, Payton's wearing the pink shirt.  http://www.nba.com/games/20131230/PORNOP/gameinfo.html?ls=slt

Hank_
Hank_

Its hard to see Monty's vision with the Roberts-Rivers situation right now, but I think Monty is doing the right thing here. We've said since the start of season that we are not a championship contender this year and we are just hoping to make the playoffs. This is basically one more rebuilding year, but with fun games and a ton of talent. This is why I think Monty is pushing Rivers so hard in this first half of the season, make him earn those minutes to make him a better player. He's obviously younger and more talented, but Monty knows that the more Rivers works the more he will learn and improve. The Thunder have used the same method for years and its worked pretty well for them. Its about the future not today.

Come On Pelican
Come On Pelican

One very important thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is how significant it was that Robin Lopez got an early second foul and had to sit. Lopez began the game with a rarely seen intensity that seemed designed to try to show Dell Demps and Tom Benson they made a mistake in letting him go. He was clogging up the paint and playing very good defense against AD23.  As soon as Lopez was on the bench, the lanes opened up and the points in the paint by the Pelicans started raining down on the Blazers' heads like a thunderstorm. Lopez is probably in the bottom five or ten of current starting NBA centers, and there's no doubt the Pels are better off with Tyreke Evans instead of Lopez and Vasquez on the roster. But Lopez's early exit last night demonstrates, once again, how important it is to a team's defense to have a decent starting center. It's obvious from the Ajinca signing that Mr. Demps gets this; it's just a matter of time before he fills in this last piece of the puzzle.  And then, who knows how good this team can become.

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

Must also agree that Gordon would have been a nice piece to have when we had a 3 guard lineup out there...or wasn't that 4?  That had disaster written on it as soon as they stepped on the floor.  Don't know why we didn't see more of Ajinca later in the game either...I watched him shooting in warmups and he has a great shot from 15-18ft...was making shot after shot...

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

After attending the last two home games Friday and tonight, I've got a growing concern about how the officials are calling our games.  I know that sounds a bit whiney, but I recall three drives Friday night by Davis, Evans, and another where significant body contact occurred yet no whistle whatsoever from the officials.  Tonight I saw some of the same, especially a very easy call or two on drives by Tyreke and AD that could have easily been "and 1's" or some shots from the stripe.

I  heard a stat on the radio driving home that said we had 60+ pts in the paint but only attempted a scant number of free throws and how incredible that was.  I can't understand this...could it be that we are so "small market", that none of our guys can get the "marquee" foul calls?  Heck, even Lillard is getting some of these calls already in Year 2, but I suppose that's because he's "earned" them. Conversely, we seem to be very proficient of getting fouls called on us.

I like empirical data as much as the next guy, but I can't believe we are to blame for what I witnessed these last two games, and based upon the articles reference, other games as well?

Jason Quigley
Jason Quigley

McNamara, you write amazing recaps...and maybe that's because we think alike. I'm sick and that comment about Roberts's blackmail photos had me laughing so hard i coughed up a lung. 

Because it's the holidays, I've been able to go to the last two games, against Denver and the one tonight, and they were both really fun, especially the wild finish tonight. I won't lie though, I thought we would lose in the end because I thought Lillard would get the ball and make some ridiculous dagger three-pointer  to win the game (like he's done in every game I can remember vs Portland the last two years). The Aldridge/Davis battle was fun to watch all night too.

Roberts really is awful and I agree so much that he just can't play. I get that we don't have all our guards right now, but I don't understand why he's been playing so much, especially over Rivers. And what was that lineup where we had Anderson at Center, then Roberts, Rivers, Evans...and it was either Aminu or Holiday?? And that was the lineup when we let up the 7 point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. 

dxxpxx
dxxpxx

give the ball to reke man

504ever
504ever

Great win without key supporting players Gordon and Smith.  

The big 4 and Aminu were amazing.  They had 90+% of points , rebounds, assists (95%), steals (100%), blocks (100%), etc. while playing 80% of the minutes and having only half of the turnovers. WOW.  That is a nice young core to grow with.

Nice to see Aminu get some love.  (He was 1 point away from a  double double tonight.)  I would definitely sign him for 3 years at around his current salary.

TalkingBasketball
TalkingBasketball

If you're gonna talk trash about roberts unrelentingly, you could at least mention that slick cut to the basket which led to a WIDE OPEN layup in 2nd Q. It was a very smart play and he was solid in 2Q, sorry his 4Q got you so butthurt mickey...

lawstar
lawstar

With Evans Davis, Aminu, Holiday with that athlethism and quick hands  and Anderson spacing you can fast break all night.  Go Pels!

THRILLHEAUX
THRILLHEAUX

I really like the way Aminu has been playing as well, but do you think that Reke and Aminu can really be on the court together WITHOUT Ryno on the floor? Seems like a Jrue/Reke/Aminu/AD/Smiht lineup may be a bit light on spacing, even though both bigs have solid range. 

lawstar
lawstar

Tyreke can be the best six-man in the league he got my vote, matter of fact I will vote tonight and everday for the all-star team AD, Holiday, Evans, and Anderson. Aminu is my alternate vote! Go Pels  Ps Don't forget Gorden

xman20002000
xman20002000

-- ADs numbers are ADs numbers..  the great thing is we have so many options now...  But what's the point in ranting on coach if you have the organization build this team...  In retrospect the Pelican's are a great model for new ownership starting a clean slate; young free agents and luck in the draft plus great front office success in free agency and the draft...  

-- Regarding Roberts you can't write him off vs the less mature Rivers... now making great progress..  No more super Crash erratic play... he is earning time and looks like he will get his minutes as time goes on..  

-- Aminu is one of our young players who is at an athletic level you wouldn't dream just looking at him..  Look what he has become after declaring he was going to focus on his defense and now he is getting his shot...  Last season's Xavier Henry is playing like he never did for the Hornets...  

-- The good thing is neither Smith nor Gordon played and we found a way...  we can sustain an injury or two and still win...  BUT Stiemsma and Withey...  what's up with them...


bobmurrell
bobmurrell

Would a move of Tyreke starting and Gordon off the bench be better? Same minutes distribution, just timing.

I'd rather Reke defend starters & EJ shred second units

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

I'm sorry, but Gordon would have missed a lot more than 5 shots, and stagnated the offense as he usually does.   No way Holiday scores 31 with Gordon in the lineup.  No way Tyreke get that last shot.  Roberts and Morrow did not jack up many bad shots tonight.  I would rather have Rivers take Roberts' minutes, but he was getting smoked by Lillard while he was in there just as bad as anyone else.  


Our real Finishing Five should be the one we used tonight.  Aminu in place of Gordon.  His rebounding and defense is so much better than Gordon.   If Aminu would stay out of the corners on offense I'd be much happier, but overall I love his game more and more.  I'd like you to compare that group versus the group with Gordon statistically.


Question:  Have you seen or heard something really bad about Withey's practice performance or habits that justifies his complete blackout from the lineup?   His advances stats are off the charts, but he has been passed up by Stiemsma, Amundson, and Ajinca without even a few minutes of burn.  Any explanation other than Monty's rookiphobia?

lawstar
lawstar

Great Game, I was at the game. The Pelicans are playing with great confident and growing as a team.  Go Pels!

jdbillio
jdbillio

Two big questions for me:

1- Can Jrue/Tyreke/AD be the big 3 on a championship team?

2- Can Monty be a championship coach; if not is he worth keeping around to develop the team?

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

@nolahog I saw the same thing...Payton was pumping his fist on the last shot!  And Holiday is just smooth as silk...and he truly is a great defender, so much so that he just about gets himself in foul trouble.  Major upgrade!

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Roberts & Rivers are chuckers nuff said.They need to bring Pierre Jackson i think he's ready for the next level.

HawnitsFanatic
HawnitsFanatic

@Pelican Poster It's not just you. When you see a post scoring differential of 5/2 and a FT differential close to 1/2 in return midway through the 4th, it's crap. There were calls missed last night that were ridiculous. One play, they straight up grabbed Aminu on his way to finishing in transition (luckily he finished the play). In another, they flat shoved Anderson in the back (again, lucky he finished the play). I think that maybe you get those calls if the shot doesn't go in but Anderson/Gordon get hosed on a daily basis.

I don't think you can expect many foul calls on Tyreke because he's so damn strong. Kind of pisses me off cause Lebron gets those calls, but it is what it is.

Part of the problem is Monty/players don't work the officials. NBA officiating in general is a joke. They typically care what these idiots think about them. If these guys talked to MLB umpires the way they talk to NBA officials, they'd be blackballed. Like it or not, it is part of the game. We need to be working these guys. We have young stars that are recognizable names that they would listen to.

xman20002000
xman20002000

@504everMr. Aminu is a merging talent able to hang with the new group of back court players...  He just might be able to get more than his current salary... Notice his lack of an extended injury problem... 

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Roberts sucks this guy should playing at the Y adult leauge because this guy is not NBA material.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara moderator

@TalkingBasketball Do you remember why the ball was out of bounds in the first place? Because he got a switch and Ryno was in the post with Mo Williams on him and Roberts did Brian Roberts things instead of getting him the ball and the ball got knocked out of bounds. 

Why am I asking if you remember? You must, because you must be Brian Roberts. Nobody else could possibly defend his play. 

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Idiots questioned the move but it really make sense he's been a hell of steal.

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Rivers and Roberts are jokes they should give back their NBA membership card because they stink.

soulbreaker
soulbreaker

@bobmurrellagree 100%, Evans is playing better than him and Gordon can´t play starters min in the NBA b/c injuries, oh and that way Monty can´t "forget" Evans on the bench...

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara moderator

@NOEngineer A lot of those stats have come in garbage time. He is just not strong enough right now. But a solid summer and I think he is in the rotation next year. And he runs the court so well. He can be a nice weapon on the break. 

soulbreaker
soulbreaker

@jdbillioi think so, yes they can be the core of a championship team. For Monty, really i don´t know, but i think everyone agrees that he isn´t a top tier coach now

xman20002000
xman20002000

@jdbillioFirst I think you are making a mistake labeling our Big 3 of a championship...  A large part of this team is in the rotation...  and we are developing before our eyes...  

Second, Monty and crew have coached up this group of young veterans..  It makes no sense and gets a bit insulting both Coach and Pelican players...  Now poor play and coaching s a different issue but you have to give credit where it is due...  


Hank_
Hank_

If you think that Rivers and Roberts are checkers you're gonna be very disappointed when you actually watch Jackson play. I can't wait until he joins the team but he's taking 22 shots per game right now in the dleague, mostly from midrange.

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

@HawnitsFanatic @Pelican Poster I was thinking the same thing on working the officials.  I know and appreciate that Monty is a nice guy but I think it's time he ratchet up the pressure on the officials. I think if he came unglued one time the Arena might explode.  I must say that I appreciate the fact that our guys are not "floppers" (Gordon about the closest) but you must admit those guys seem to get the calls.  Another reason why I detest the Spurs and Mavs so much in our division...ELITE FLOPPERS!

shantadiva
shantadiva

@Michael McNamara@TalkingBasketballWhat about Morrow?  Why is Monty starting him?  He looks completely uncomfortable playing against and defending starters.  Even Roberts looks better starting than Morrow.  Monty should save Morrow for the second unit where he might get some open looks.

Nithenz
Nithenz

First, lets remember Roberts is our 4th guard... You cant expect a Stockton to come in to give some rest to the starters. Second, i really liked the first half of Roberts. He was looking good in that full court pressure, and deflecting some pases. The  last stint was awfull. Burnt on defense and his shot was off (but he realized it and shoot just 3). He isnt perfect, but i would take him as a 4th guard. And i guess Monty knows a little bit more than most of us, and that old joke of blackmailling photos is that, just a joke, so you have to give the guy some props. He improved since arriving and  i really think he won his time on the court.

xman20002000
xman20002000

@soulbreaker@bobmurrellEvans has great energy off the bench hoping the first unit gets ahead... It's great the way it is plus soon Smith and Gordon will be back...

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

@Michael McNamara@NOEngineerNot strong enough to do what, exactly?   Is he weaker than Ryan Anderson?  Than Davis was last year?  None of our bigs are in the upper half of the league in strength or mass.   Back to my question, what is being seen in practice (scored upon too easily, can't box out, can't learn help defense, etc.)?   Is it really worse than Stiemsma or Amundson?  Unless they are afraid he will get injured due a huge strength mismatch, I don't see the benefit of "protecting" him from actual playing time.   


I acknowledge the garbage time issue, but the same applies to some of the minutes for Stiemsma and Ajinca and Amundson, and their per-minute performance is an order of magnitude poorer.   None of them will win any strong-man contests.    If those guys are beating him badly head to head in practice, maybe that is a viable excuse.   However, some guys perform better in game situations than they do in practice and vice-versa.  

jdbillio
jdbillio

Haha there's no statements in there, just questions. I mean big three as in the 3 best players on a Championship team. Obviously the rotations are always important.

No doubt this is a developmental year for the Pelicans, but, after this year, this team has to decide what's championship caliber and what's not. If you aren't consistently asking those questions, then the team will plateau.

I love Monty, I think he is the best big man coach in the NBA. However, I see so many things wrong fundamentally with this team I can't forgive. Which leads to the question, can Monty ever win a championship?

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Rivers & Roberts are crappy but i wouldn't mind Jackson over Roberts at least and give Rivers more playing time.

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Maybe with that change Gordon would really ask for a trade.

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Alot of us hope Withey can be an Mark Eaton style center one day

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara moderator

@NOEngineer @Michael McNamara Yes, he is FAR weaker than Ryno. I was one of the biggest Withey supporters, but seeing him in Summer League, both in games and in preactice - he is a ways away. But we got time. Enough bigs to hold the fort down this year. If he works hard every day in practice, learns, and gets stronger, it will be like having a 1st round pick next year when we add him. He and Pierre Jackson will be our rookies next year, essentially. 

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Payton came in a bad situation post katrina but got this close to the super bowl in his first season but the Saints was a rebuilding team from 06-09 it took free agents and four drafts to build a winner.As for Monty he came in a bad situation CPME wanted out and the team up for sale even in his first year he got them into the playoffs but he inherited a good team til the dominos fall.The Pels drafted Davis and that bust Rivers,Then via traded Withey and Jackson within a few years these guys minus Rivers they will good young core of players.Im sorry but i don't see Rivers as part of the future of this team the guy stinks period.

504ever
504ever

@soulbreaker @504ever @jdbillio  

I don't agree cause you can't tell now how good Monty is right now.  When did you know Sean Payton was a top tier coach? The Super Bowl season? Was he not a top tier coach the season before, or was he one and you just didn't see it?

If we finish higher than the Suns or make the playoffs, and continue to improve throughout the season what might that mean?  It may mean Monty is on track to be a top tier coach.  The Panther's started the NFL season poorly, and now Rivera is a shoe in for NFC coach of the year!

soulbreaker
soulbreaker

@504ever@soulbreaker@jdbillioreally? do u think he is in Pop/Doc/Spoelstra/Adelman´s level? even more now that a lot of bad coaches are gone and the new ones are incredibly good(really, look bobs Suns celts, that´s an insanely high level of coaching). I think this year he has shown all the good and the bad in him, like the firt ten games that he kills the team just for overreacting to Ryno´s injury, and showing that he´s not a good teacher, his teams develop in a very slow pace, and he´s stubborn and schematic;but he created a very good scheme for the big five in O, the defense is getting better(even if the scheme doesn´t make that much sense with this roster) and he gave up with his 3 pt shot phobia, now for the rest we won´t know till  a close PO game how he will react, we will see

xman20002000
xman20002000

@jdbillioLook we just beat Portland and as someone noted.. without Gordon who is good for at least 15 and Smith 10.... more or less..  The Pierre Jackson..  if that's his name scored 47 wherever he is playing...Personally I would like to see how we make out over the next 5 games when everyone should be available.. i.e. Minnesota, Boston, Indiana, Miami and Washington.. including the top of the East..