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

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Published: January 13, 2014
Game Recap Lose 4

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.

15 comments
HawnitsFanatic
HawnitsFanatic

1) Kudos to Monty for not letting Steamer hit the floor last night. Monty's rotations are less maddening by the day. He did mention Withey gave us a great spark postgame. So, uh, 5 minutes coach? What gives?

2) AR should be the starting PG. Posted this on TD.com (ShamelessPel), but Brian Roberts simply cannot guard the opposing 1s and is a ball stopper on offense. We were rolling until he came into the game with 7 mins left in the 4th. Our only FG's thereafter came from BRob's 2 shots and AR's layup. I also think he'd make a good compliment to Rivers as a SG. Allowing Rivers to create for Roberts vs. Roberts creating for Rivers seems to be a no-brainer to me. Also, how Monty did not get Eric or Austin to guard Parker last night is confusing.

3) I can already hear the answer to #2 if the question gets asked by a reporter: "I really like Austin's energy off the bench." Mark it down. Book it.

4) Tonight was a perfect example of why Davis could stand to gain 10-15 pounds. Watching Duncan abuse him on the glass was pretty cool to watch. Good thing there is only 1 Tim Duncan left in the league. The combination of intelligence and skill is otherworldly. And we might hope that Davis could turn into an upgraded version of this cat one day? AND saying that doesn't even sound stupid ridiculous and impossible while I type it? Awesome.

5) I think Jason Smith is an asset to a good team and a liability to a bad one. Too frequently do our young guards try to find him for his 18 footer at the expense of running a real offense.

6) Ajinca is getting the new confirmation bias treatment from Monty now that he's forced to move on from Rivers. Monty was quoted post-game saying Ajinca needs to be in the paint more instead of shooting jumpers on offense. Somehow it's ok for Smith to take those jumpers all game though? Further, it appears to me that Ajinca actually has longer range than Smith. If you're bored, watch him in pre-game warmups Wednesday. Guy can stroke from 3 effortlessly. 

7) I thought Ajinca defended Duncan well last night. He didn't try to do too much. He stood his ground and forced Duncan to shoot over a 7'2'' defender with a 7'9'' wingspan. +/- doesn't always tell the story.


Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Still a laughingstock them Pelicants!!!!

bradlaborde
bradlaborde

They played hard.

Hung in there.

Short handed.

Moral victory.

I wonder if P. Jackson will get called up.

I hate that I have to see these phrases until April.

Come On Pelican
Come On Pelican

If looks could kill, the refs would be dead after calling foul #6 against Tim Duncan last night.

mojart
mojart

just more playing time for rivers, miller and withey.....maybe monty experiment and start rivers over roberts against the rockets

xman20002000
xman20002000

All the Gordon hatin is getting personal... perhaps you didn't watch the same game...  Gordon and everyone else played a great game considering Evans, Holiday and Anderson are out...  If you don't like Gordon perhaps you should support another team... It was a close basketball game against one of one of the leaders in the West..  Entertaining..

jsl05
jsl05

When will being a fan of a New Orleans basketball team get better?

xman20002000
xman20002000

@HawnitsFanatic I really enjoyed reading your comments... many interesting observations...  Its interesting we played so well, despite the loss, without Evans, Holiday and Anderson...  We played the Spurs veteran starters... Try EG and AR...

Sports_Guy
Sports_Guy

@Papa Pelican why are you so damn negative? yes the team is not as good thanks to injuries. Your negative comments are not needed. support the team and city or shut up

Papa Pelican
Papa Pelican

Thery're no moral victories a lost is a lost nuff said.

xman20002000
xman20002000

@mojart Rivers can come off the bench...  And I am noticing how long we are...  Ajinca can shoot from outside..  Why not let Withey get more minutes...  and ahead of Stiemsma..

mateor
mateor

@jsl05 shoot, we could be watching Anthony Bennett instead of Anthony Davis. New Orleans is gonna be okay.

macs21
macs21

@CPMDatson He also had 3 games with 20+ points in a row before this one and looked great in the first half..

xman20002000
xman20002000

@mateor@jsl05 AD seems to be the real deal...  And tonight we hung in there without Anderson and our two new players... We are playing with last season's team in some form or fashion...

Major504
Major504

@macs21 @CPMDatson All the money he makes he needs to look good in both halves. He disappears too much for me.