Pelicans Defeat the Bulls, This Time With Defense

The first time these two teams met, Ryan Anderson drained everything and Luol Deng sliced up the Pelicans defense at will. The two teams went back and forth until finally a deep three fell short and the Pelicans escaped with a 128-125 victory. Tonight was very, very different. Tonight the Pelicans won a game with defense. They held the Bulls to 38.6% shooting, they defended the three-point line (Bulls were just 3-16), and they protected the paint by swatting 14 shots. The offense wasn’t good (it wasn’t even average), but it didn’t need to be because the defense was fantastic.

For one of the few times this year, there seemed to be good communication and it even looked like the players might have read the scouting reports. They played everybody on the Bulls the right way, save for the couple of times early on that they went under screens set for DJ Augustin. The only time the Bulls really got their offense going was late in quarters, where they were sometimes in the bonus.

Offensively, the Pelicans struggled due in large part to a lack of spacing. That is going to happen when you are playing Stiemsma and either Withey or Ajinca together for 3-5 minute stretches. It also is going to happen when the Bulls refuse to respect Tyreke Evans’ jumpshot and when Eric Gordon is air balling 20-foot step back jumpers. But non-All Star Anthony Davis was there to save the day, as he hit numerous jump shots down the stretch to help the Pelicans pull away. Against the NBA’s 2nd ranked defense, there weren’t really any sets that gave the Pelicans an advantage tonight. So, Monty just called clear outs for his superstar and Davis responded by scoring 7 of the final 12 points for the Pelicans and assisting on 2 more. And, oh yeah, he was pretty good defensively too.

They all were.

Other Notes and Observations

– People can pick apart certain guys’ games tonight, but the Bulls defense is fantastic and there is no shame in missing shots against them. Tyreke Evans is a prime example, as he got into the lane at will and set up his teammates several times, but also missed some tough shots at the rim. The Bulls are long and active, and they make it tough for everybody; Tonight was no exception. But the team kept playing through it and got just enough offense to get by. But not enough for Free Fries!!

– I don’t know if it was the All-Star snub or the fact that Monty held him out the last game, but AD came out playing angry tonight. He was ferocious from the tip and played with the energy and focus throughout the game that champions tend to have night in and night out. He scored 24 points tonight, and he had more blocks than missed shots. Let that sink in.

10-14 from the field, 4-4 from the line, 24 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocks, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Can anybody else in the league put up a stat line like that? And question #2: Doesn’t that feel like this is becoming the norm for AD?

– Tonight out center trio went 8-10, scored 17 points with 10 boards and six blocks. All of that is great. It’s the 12 fouls that was incredibly frustrating. But beggars can’t be choosers. Those three are making a combined 4 million dollars this year, and with Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith out, you would take that every night.

– What’s better than tomorrow? Three Morrow! Sorry, corny joke but the three’s seem so rare nowadays that I get excited when he releases one, and even more excited when they splash.

– Aside from one shot that Austin Rivers threw up when his feet got tangled with a Bulls defender, he looked decent tonight. His catch and shoot three is vastly improved and his defense is praise worthy. It is the mid-range game that is a nightmare. All he has is that ugly floater/runner and he took one tonight from 10-12 feet out. Would be really nice to see him develop that this summer.

– For a small stretch in the second quarter, it honestly looked like it was becoming a one-on-one battle between DJ Augustin and Brian Roberts. Both were coming off of picks and shooting long two’s. Now you know part of the reason that the score was 88-79. On the positive side for Roberts, he really has taken care of the ball as of late. Just one turnover tonight.

– Eric Gordon started off hot in the first quarter, scoring 7 points in the first 2 minutes and 11 seconds. He only scored two more points the rest of the game. The worst part is that I am not even surprised about this trend anymore.

– Just one last thought: We are just beginning the Anthony Davis era. That is all.

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7 responses to “Pelicans Defeat the Bulls, This Time With Defense”

  1. Did everyone see after the Bulls game where Monte said ‘No big trades. This is our team. The last three weeks have been like training camp for the new team (without Anderson and Holiday).’  If so, does last night’s performance mean the “new team” is coming together?

  2. Bulls got invited to the block party!  Even Ajinca was getting into the act there at the end.  Davis completely took over that game during the final eight minutes.  He’s just so much more energetic than any big man in the league, and that’s saying a lot on a night where he was playing against Noah.  When he dove on the floor to get that steal with like 4 minutes left, I knew the game was over.  I started chanting “MVP! MVP!  What a hustle play?”
    Also, what was with Aminu’s hair?  How do his teammates allow that to happen?
    Also, WHERE THE F%#K IS THE KING CAKE BABY?!!  We’re a month away from Mardi Gras and he’s still a no show.  If the new “Pelicans Culture” has included axing the KCB, then I’m going to spray paint HORNETS FOREVER on the side of stadium one night after Mardi Gras.  Seriously, everyone needs to be tweeting the Pelicans account to put the pressure on.

  3. Ajinca and Davis together can be special…More minutes will allow Ajinca to get use to the refs and vice versa …..

  4. Roberts played extremely well tonight on offense.  He starts his offense about 10 feet closer to the basket than Rivers, resulting in more ball movement.   
    Stiemsma has now had 3 solid games in a row.   I agree that the group is complementing Davis perfectly.   I don’t want to see Davis in the Center position, all tangled up with some bulky guy.  He needs to roam free.   When Anderson comes back, I’d live to see a big lineup with a center, Davis at PF, and Anderson at SF.   At this stage, Ajinca, Withey, and Stiemsma give us similar production to Aminu in my opinion, so this concept is not that outlandish.  If the opposing SF is too athletic for Anderson to defend, put Davis on him.

    I like Evans’ game better than Gordon’s, because he gets to the rim with a soft touch, allowing second chances.  Gordon’s misses seem to be harder to turn into offensive rebounds.  Also, Evans needs nothing from anyone to create a seam and get to the basket.  I would like to see him take the wide-open three instead of the contested 20-footer, however.
    Monty seems to be obtaining improved play from Roberts, Rivers, Stiemsma, Aminu, Ajinca, and of course Davis.   He seems able to improve bad players up to a average, but I don’t give him much credit for Davis’s jump from star to superstar level.   What remains to be proven is the ability to jump some of these guys rom average to star level.   Holiday, Evans, Anderson all have great games with gaping holes in them, that if filled would make them stars.   I hope this happens!

    Side note:  I vote no on the new Aminu hairstyle.  However, I also vote no on all of the other Aminu hairstyles…..

  5. 504ever just rewatched it and I take it as he either turned voted against one or no “grandiose” trades could also mean that they do not want to many pieces. As in more of a one for one trade or a salary dump like straight up EG for okafor, or Ben Gordon. All EG needs is his confidence back he’s good it seems as if the first time he gets taken out he thinks about being traded and such.

  6. xman20002000 I agree that Smith is not efficient.   He takes too many long 2s, and therefore can’t box out or rebound effectively.   Anderson is efficient when his 3-point stroke is working, which can be streaky.   I don’t want to see us become the Bulls, with efficient but stoppable offensive players in a grind-it-out slugfest each night.   Anderson makes others better by spacing the floor, especially Evans.   I’ll sacrifice efficiency and rebounding for that, for now.

    I think 8 of 10 shooting by the bigs complemented AD just fine.    Ajinca was 4 for 4.  Give the men credit, they played a great game.  It was the 11 of 35 from our 3 top guards that kept Chicago close.

    The word hate is overused.  Pointing out deficiencies is not hate.  Even wanting to get rid of a player from the team is not necessarily hate, if it is rational.   There are valid objections to Monty’s rotations (getting better), his use of timeouts, and his aversion to playing rookies.   I still prefer him over Karl, Avery, Byron, or most other options out there.   If Rivers, Stiemsma, Withey, Ajinca, Miller, and Morrow all continue to improve I will advocate keeping him another year despite the objections.

  7. The bigs seem to be hedging less.  I don’t know if it is a change by Monty or because of the weaker PGs the Pels have been playing.

    Just an observation…

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