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West Coast Drought
Some say the end is near
Some say we’ll see Armageddon soon
I certainly hope we will
I sure could use a vacation from this
— Tool, Aenima
New Orleans Pelicans News
In the week ending December 22, the Pelicans went 0-3, still on their West Coast road trip. Their record fell to 11-14 in the process, extending the losing streak to 4 in a row, the longest of the season. The team got a pleasant surprise as Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans returned and Alexis Ajinca was signed. Davis’ return was followed by the loss of Jason Smith. Give and take . . . such is life.
In the first of the losses, the Pelicans were down a few players as they faced a healthy Golden State Warriors squad. The 104-93 score did not reflect the level of domination, as the Pelicans outscored the Warriors by 12 in the fourth, the largest lead being 26. The Warriors led in all the important categories including TS% (0.512 v. 0.451), ORB% (0.347 v. 0.226), and DRB% (0.774 v. 0.653).
In the loss to the Clippers, the domination was not as complete, but was more of a steadily tightening fist around the neck of the Pelicans. Though they lost 108-95, a larger margin than seen in Oakland, there was no furious comeback by the Pelicans (not that it was a real threat), as the Pelicans lost the quarters by margins of 5, 2, 6, and 0. The largest lead was 19. Though the lost the TS% battle again (0.565 v. 0.467), the Pelicans managed to rebound effectively . . . ORB%: 0.321 v. 0.229, DRB% 0.771 v. 0.679.
The Portland loss was the closest of the road trip, as the Pelicans lost 110-107 on a game-winning 3 by Damian Lillard. The game was very even and could have gone either way, or to overtime. In the end, Portland was able to rebound a little better and kept the Pelicans’ guards from scoring very efficiently. In the end, it was just a coin flip.
Around Bourbon Street Shots
In the NO gave significant time to perimeter players this week. First, Michael and Ryan discussed Holiday’s rising station and the doldrums Anderson found himself in when Davis was out. Then, then they continued with a discussion of Evans and Gordon.
Trew 2 the Game once again discussed the Hornets, as the Bobcats are picking up the identity the Pelicans discarded.
`Voices’ of the People
I’m so glad someone put it into words. I hate how people blindly throw out “Monty needs to be fired!” without any reason at all, because while I have been frustrated with some of the stuff he’s done as coach of our New Orleans team, and he may not even be in the top half of the league as far as coaches go, but he’s never had a completely healthy, good team. This year started off with injuries, Evans being rusty from missing preseason because of an injury, Anderson missing because of his foot, Stiemsma going down for a few months, Miller not able to play until just a few days ago, Davis going down just when things were starting to gel, Evans spraining his ankle seemingly every other game. Monty just hasn’t had much of a chance to coach the team he thought was put together for him to coach, at least not a fully healthy one, and while obviously the coach is to blame some of the time, players go out there and win the games, and we haven’t had all of our players for a good part of this season. And that’s to be expected, but the volume of injuries we’ve had has been more than most teams have had to deal with. So it just saddens and frustrates me that so many people are chanting for Monty to be fired, just to be saying something and looking like they know what they’re talking about, when there are so many other things riding on our successes and failures than a coach, especially a coach that hasn’t gotten to work much with a full team but has done well when he has.
Anyway! Let’s focus on at least one positive here: Davis and Evans are back! But I hope people didn’t expect them to win the game single-handedly for us tonight, especially against one of the best teams in the West, especially at home. And especially against a team like the Clippers who can destroy you inside if you don’t really have anyone down there. You can’t really expect to win against a team like that when your only two big men that played were both power forwards. We’d have a better chance of beating the Heat.
I have to disagree. There’s coaching, as in x’s and o’s, and when it comes to that I can’t challenge the team’s playbook, except to say that they can’t be running it well, because they are chronically down every possession to 5 seconds before someone improvises a 30-foot heave.
But there’s also coaching as in the way a team carries itself. Tonight, the typical Pelicans pose was 2 players in the backcourt with their hands in the air signaling like an extra point in football, and the Clippers racing downcourt on a fast break. This fits under the category of nobody having been coached on taking one (or two) for the team. Sometimes, you just gotta take a tech. Sometimes, you just gotta get yourself pulled off of a ref that’s letting call after call go the other team’s way. If your team doesn’t think you’ll fight for them, they won’t fight for you.
Second of all, we need enforcers. Guys who won’t let other teams try to chump their superstars. Clipper players took lots of shots at our franchise guys in vulnerable moments. There were too many close calls on plays that could have resulted in serious injuries and more lost playing time for our starters. The NBA is self-regulating, at least among the elite teams. Top teams won’t let you take a free swing at their franchise players. They won’t let you try to show someone up. But they’ll try to intimidate you if you’ve been coached to appeal to the refs instead of pushing back. I fully believe that this team has been stocked with too many “nice guy” types, and it is coached by someone who wants the NBA version of the “beautiful game.” But if you want to do that, you have to have an EDGE to go along with it, or you’ll get pushed and shoved around and all your pretty pattern plays will go up in smoke.
Did Monty learn none of this from Pop? Would Pop let him team get thugged by the Clippers AND the refs? They’d carry him out on a stretcher before that happened. there’s no inconsistency between playing a precision game and possessing the toughness to not stand for the sorts of things that Chris Paul pulled like the times he deliberately undercut Anthony Davis.
Monty maybe only knows the playbook side of the game. The politics, the gamesmanship? The in your face sticking up for your team part? He fell off the Popovich tree before he learned that part.
You recapped exactly what i was thinking as i watched the waning moments of this game, This was a HUGE step up, i really liked what i saw from ajenca. Davis is a man out there, just wish they would learn to throw him the ball wen he calls for it down there. The team for the most part stepped up when it counted. Morrow is better than everyone gives him credit for. When they took him out i couldnt figure out why when he was clearly the best shooting guard for the pels at the time…. then Gordon came in, and i knew even though we were up, we would lose somehow. Im not even a Gordon Hater, but it was the look in his eyes like he didnt really want to be there. Damian Lillard is legit. I never wanted to believe that. Evans… I guess if you truly want to transform him into a ginobili type player, you have to take the good with the bad just like ginobili. But he was still pretty good. I love the way we can see this team growing together. Anderson also did his thing, i just cant get if monty drew that play up or was it that disrupted by the blazers defense, oh well he almost drained it. It wasnt a signature win, but i guess a signature loss that we can hopefully look back on in a few games after a win streak and say thats where it started to turn around a bit for the pels.
Since this stretch was so bad, let’s take a quick look at some statistics, as we do from time to time, to make us feel better or worse, depending.
- The Pelicans are now 19th in the NBA in Pace (estimated number of possessions per 48 minutes), at 93.4. The NBA average is 94.2. The teams nearest the Pelicans are, in descending order: Cavaliers (93.9), Heat, Wizards (93.1), Pacers, Celtics, Raptors, and Bobcats. I will take this chance to reiterate that Pace is influenced by, though not a measure of, the tactical use of high footspeed in certain situations. Rather, it is a measure of the strategic use of the shotclock, decisions about rebounding, turnovers, shooting efficiency, and more.
- The Pelicans are tied with the Spurs for fifth in the NBA in ORtg at 108.7 (NBA average is 105.2). Their DRtg is 108.2, good for sixth worst in the NBA. Their differential (0.5) is good for 14th in the NBA . . . midpack.
- The Pelicans 3PAr, the rate at which 3-point shots are taken as a percentage of all shots, is 28th in the NBA, making them one of only 3 teams with a rate below 0.2: Pelicans (0.199), Bobcats (0.189), and Grizzlies (0.171). This is despite being the team with the fifth highest 3P% (0.386 . . . NBA average is 0.360 so far this season).
- The Pelicans’ opponents are the third worst at shooting free throws, posting 0.732 compared to NBA average 0.754. They are tenth worst at shooting 3’s with a rate of 0.353 compared to NBA average 0.360. The bad news, then, is that they shoot 2-pointers at the fourth best rate (0.505).
- The Pelicans (still) lead the NBA (still with the Knickerbockers) with a TOV% of 0.120 on offense. On defense, they are slightly above average . . . 0.142 v. 0.142 . . . good for tenth best.
- The Pelicans’ rebounding is very good on offense (0.293, 4th best in the NBA), while the defensive rebounding is seventh worst at 0.734. The NBA averages are 0.256 and 0.744, respectively.
- Among players with at least 500 minutes who play at least 24 minutes per game on average and who average at least 5 assists per game, Jrue Holiday ranks 7th in AST/TOV at 2.71 compared to an average of 2.39 among such players. For those worried about his so-called turnover problem, again, I think it’s time to let it go.
- Among players who have played at least 100 minutes, Anthony Davis leads the NBA is BLK% at 0.077, with Roy Hibbert being his nearest challenger at 0.066. Per 36 minutes, he still leads the NBA, but his margin over Hibbert is down to 3.3 v. 3.2. Davis’ Block-to-Foul rate is about 1.0, however, while Hibbert’s is a good bit lower.
- Among players with at least 20 attempts, Ryan Anderson leads the NBA in FT% at 0.964 (54 of 56). He missed one against Oklahoma City and one against Houston.