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Indiana Blitzes New Orleans in the Second Half, Defeat Pelicans 99-82
It was good while it lasted. For the second straight time, the Pelicans thouroughly outplayed the Pacers in the first half, but blew the lead in the final two quarters. Tonight, it was one monster run that did the Pelicans in, as Indiana went on a 18-0 run midway through the third quarter. The Pelicans made a few surges here and there, but never really got back into the game, and wound up losing 99-82.
Paul George led the Pacers with 24 points and 10 boards, but Louisiana native Danny Granger arguably provided Indiana the biggest spark in the second half, drilling some three’s and getting to the line. He came off the bench and gave Indiana 13 points, while Lance Stephenson also caught fire in the third quarter and finished with 19 points despite starting just 1-5 from the field.
The Pelicans, meanwhile, struggled when the Pacers decided to pack the paint defensively. Without Ryan Anderson, they couldn’t make the Pacers pay and even their shots in the paint weren’t falling. There was minimal ball movement tonight, as the Pelicans tended to just isolate for much of the game. The team finished with more turnovers (17) than assists (15) as a result.
It was a game that practically nobody expected the Pelicans to win, but the first half got hopes up. It’s obvious that the Pelicans can compete and even outplay great teams in spurts, but they have only maintained in for 48 minutes once this season. They leave this game having defeated just one team currently over .500, and are 6-12 on the road.
Notes and Observations
– Eric Gordon was fantastic in the first half. He was flying to the basket, stepping into three’s and drilling them, and even setting up his teammates from time to time. Then he drops four points and zero assists in the second half. Why? That’s the thing, I don’t even know. I have seen this happen multiple times now with Gordon, and I have no idea who is at fault. Does Gordon get winded? Does Monty forget about him? Do teams adjust and he can’t score when he is the focus of the defense? I don’t know. I honestly don’t even have a hypothesis.
– Jrue Holiday had a great stretch in the middle of the second quarter where he drained a couple of shots. Even took George Hill into the post and made him look foolish. After that, he was nowhere to be found.
– The Pelicans made a conscious effort early to have everyone crash the defensive boards. Ironically, it kind of backfired as several Pacers shots missed and came out long and there were no Pelicans do be found. They tried several things tonight, but nothing seemed to work as the Pacers offensive rebound percentage was over 30.
– Alexis Ajinca had, by far, his best game as a Pelican. 17 points on just 7 shots and a posterizing dunk on Hibbert. A slow footed guy like Hibbert is a good matchup for him, and he might be able to dominate the offensive glass against an undersized Miami team in the next game.
– Jeff Withey got some playing time tonight.
– Despite Ajinca looking serviceable, I don’t know how many games this team can win with Stiemsma and Ajinca getting 53 minutes. Smith and/or Anderson need to come back for that Dallas home and home series.
– Speaking of Ryan Anderson, still no updates yet. Hoping for the best.
– Writing this recap in the second quarter of the Saints game. If they win, they have to pound the rock on offense and blitz effectively on defense to have a chance at Seattle.