Pelicans find three point shot and Gordon finishes off Pistons

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Published: January 25, 2014

If one team can make a run, the other team is probably capable of doing the same.  That’s pretty much what happened tonight as the Pelicans went on a sick 17-2  run, took a nice lead, and then allowed the Pistons to make their own 22-6 run in return.  The Pistons were up 10 with five minutes to go, and then the Pelicans – Morrow and Gordon – started sinking threes.  Despite a series of putbacks by Drummond, the Pistons couldn’t maintain their lead, and the Pelicans claimed a 99-98 lead on an Anthony Davis bucket.  After exchanging some shots, the Pelicans had the ball with the score tied and 19 seconds left.  Eric Gordon isolated at the top of the key, eschewed the long shot, drove the basket, reversed, drove again, and sank a floater as Josh Smith tried to come over to block it.  Ball game.

I want to celebrate the win, but that huge Pistons run in the middle of the game did sour me some.  The natural inclination for some is to blame Monty – or say the Pistons know how to make adjustments and the Pelicans don’t.  The truth is that the Pelicans ball-handling just got sloppy.  I said it in the game preview, the Pistons are very, very good at forcing turnovers, and the Pelicans starting coughing them up in bunches.  The Pistons triggered off those turnovers and got bunches of easy shots by stealing in bound passes, lazy perimeter passes, and a couple flat out clean picks of ball-handlers. Everyone got into this act – Gordon got the lions share of turnovers but during the brutal run, it wasn’t his fault, mostly, as the entire team suffered from a continuous brain fart.

Regardless off the runs, there were some very important developments in this game.  First, Monty rode Austin Rivers at the point for long stretches of the game, including crunch time.  Rivers responded with a solid game.  Oddly in came in the face of Roberts actually playing well, as Brian was knocking down his shots.

Second, Monty gave Withey a good chunk of time, including rotating him onto the floor for defensive substitutions during crunch time.  Once again, part of that was due to Greg Stiemsma fouling everything that moved near him, but the fact Monty went with him instead of Ajinca tells us that he’s starting to trust his rookie.  That’s good.

Other observations:

  • One of the effects of the Davis, Stiemsma, Withey, Ajinca front line?  Yet another opponent with a 20-20 game.  These guys just can’t handle physically strong bangers in the post.  All of those guys also like to go hard after blocks, which leaves their guy open to crash the boards.  It showed tonight.  Drummond was getting free non-stop.
  • Jennings gets hot for stretches, and then cools down quickly.  Thankfully, he always still thinks he’s hot.
  • Morrow was stroking it tonight.  11 shots – 21 points.  Too bad he can’t get it going like that more often – though I do cringe at his defense.  On one play he was supposed to trail Kyle Singler through a pair of staggered screens.   Singler, hardly fleet of foot, cleared the second screen,  flared out six feet, caught the ball, turned, dribbled three times – and then Morrow caught up.   I guess we should just be glad that Singler was looking for another teammate to post up, rather than shooting.
  • For about 8 minutes in the second quarter, Rivers was a difference maker, getting penetration and wreaking havoc.  One of the Pistons changes in the third was to hedge hard on pick and rolls in an effort to contain his penetration.  It worked, and his good game descended sharply as he struggled to find a way to attack the Pistons defense.
  • Where did Withey’s blocks go on the stat sheet.  I’m pretty sure I remember at least 2 shots he got his fingers on.
  • Davis had a mediocre game offensively, but as usual, he managed to still have an impact by playing long-armed contain defense on Josh Smith.  That kept Smith as a jump-shooter for much of the game.

Next game is Sunday vs Orlando!