Short-handed Pelicans play Spurs tough but come up short, losing 101-95

Published: January 13, 2014

In a game that this Pelicans fan thought could be over before the 4th quarter, New Orleans made an impressive showing and took San Antonio down to the wire. The game was reasonably tight all night long, as the Spurs were never able to get comfortable. In the end, however, no one could stop Tony Parker, as the star point guard slashed his way for 27 points on just 15 shots to go along with a game high 7 assists and only 2 turnovers. Even after Tim Duncan fouled out for the first time since 2010, the Pelicans could not stop the Spurs’ versatile guards from scoring in the 4th quarter. Let’s look at how the Pelicans fared in the pregame keys to victory:

  1. Dominate the defensive glass. Can’t ask for anything more from the Pelicans here, as the Spurs only recorded three offensive rebounds, all of them coming in the third quarter. The result was only 4 second chance points for San Antonio, compared to 12 for New Orleans.
  2. Don’t pack the paint on defense at the expense of the perimeter. For 3 quarters, the Pelicans fared magnificently in this aspect, holding the Spurs to just 1-6 shooting from long range. Unfortunately, that trend evened out a bit in the 4th, as San Antonio made 4 of their 6 three point attempts in the final quarter. The Spurs’ 41.7% 3-point percentage for the game overall doesn’t look great, but when you consider the low number of attempts (12), it’s not that bad.
  3. Keep AD as close to the rim as possible. Here is where things start to go sour. The Spurs topped their already top-5 points in the paint per game average of 47.8, finishing with 50 points at the rim. Duncan and Parker accounted for more than half of this total by themselves, scoring 14 points each from that distance. Though the Pelicans’ defense was pretty good until the 4th quarter, I still wish the team would try harder to make Davis more of a rim protector, especially when up against teams that don’t have players who can bully him.
  4. No free points. Um… oops. The Spurs average about 20 free throws per game, but matched that total halfway through the second quarter tonight. There were certainly a couple questionable calls, but the referees cannot be blamed for how foul-happy this Pelicans team has become recently. If you cut San Antonio’s 31 free throw attempts down to their season average, New Orleans probably wins this game.

Other notes:

  • In what has seemingly become fairly routine this season, Eric Gordon started out strong and aggressive, but then promptly disappeared afterwards, scoring just 3 points on 6 shots in the game’s final three quarters. Gordon finished with 12 points on 14 attempts.
  • The Pelicans attempted 11 3-pointers tonight and knocked down 7 of them. For comparison’s sake, the Grizzlies are last in the NBA in 3-point attempts per game with an average of just over 14. I’ll just leave it at that.
  • I liked what I saw from Rivers tonight. His 12 points on 11 shots may not seem that great, but if you add to that a team-leading 5 assists and zero turnovers then it looks like a pretty decent game. He attacked the rim and didn’t settle for jumpers, and the 5-10 foot floater looked better than it has in the past.
  • Outside of a brief hot stretch, Roberts’ stat line vastly overrates his performance tonight (unless you’re looking at his team worst +/- of -15). He undoubtedly had a decent game, but in multiple instances he held the ball for too long and put the Pelicans in a bad spot because of it. He made a couple hero ball shots to keep this game close late, but it wasn’t really a sustainable performance or one that I can see him building off of.
  • I really hope Miller continues to get 20+ minutes a night. He was very active defensively and made smart passes on offense. Consistent playing time may help him just as much as Rivers and Davis for the rest of this season.

The Pelicans return to action in New Orleans on Wednesday night to take on the Houston Rockets.


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