Pelicans Picked and Rolled to death in 4th by Spurs, blow double-digit lead in 102-95 loss

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Published: February 3, 2014

After three quarters, the Pelicans were in the driver’s seat with a 76-64 lead. They managed to hold the Spurs to 42.6% shooting (2-12 from long range) and only 12 free throw attempts (including just three in the 2nd and 3rd quarters combined). San Antonio had totaled just two offensive rebounds, and though Parker and Duncan had both combined for 36 points up until that point, it took them 34 field goal attempts to get there. On the flip side, the Pelicans were shooting 48.3% from the field (5-10 from beyond the arc) and had converted on 15 out of 18 free throw attempts, all with Anthony Davis averaging less than a point per shot attempt. New Orleans out-rebounded San Antonio 37-23, Eric Gordon and Anthony Morrow combined for 32 points on only 14 shots (2.3 points per FGA!), and the Pels appeared to be in great shape to pull off an upset of one of the best teams in the NBA on their home court.

Unfortunately, NBA games are four quarters long.

The final period was an absolute disaster for the Pelicans from start to finish. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker played a fun game of “who will Greg Stiemsma attempt to guard after we run a pick and roll?” and abused him consistently. It felt like I was watching Robin Lopez in that brutal meltdown vs. Kobe and the Lakers last year… except at least Lopez can, you know, score. The Pelicans were unable to force a single turnover in the period while committing 5 of their own. The Spurs made more 3-pointers and collected more offensive rebounds (3 and 3) than in the first three quarters combined (2 and 2). In just 12 minutes, New Orleans was able to undo 36 minutes of hard work, and then some. Just a brutal loss for the Pelicans in a game that they really had no excuse to lose given their lead at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Keys to the Game

  1. Contain. Tony Parker. I guess I should have emphasized “for two halves”, because the Pelicans decided to call it quits on this task after just two quarters. Parker scored 11 points on 11 shots in the first half, but erupted for 21 points on 13 attempts in the second half. As expected, Parker ran circles around Roberts late in the game, and also as expected, Monty Williams made no effort to try to find someone else who could defend him.
  2. Positioning ≠ rebounding. Boxing your man out = rebounds. All things considered, the Pelicans did a pretty good job of keeping the Spurs off of the offensive glass (especially in the first three quarters). Overall, the Spurs finished with an offensive rebound rate right around 12%, just over half of their bottom-5 season average of 22.2%. Good work on the glass tonight by New Orleans, led by Davis (16 rebounds in 44 minutes) and Ajinca (10 rebounds in 27 minutes).
  3. Stop fouling everyone. Things started off shaky for the Pels, as the Spurs got into the penalty with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter, attempting 5 free throws in the game’s first 7 minutes. After that, however, New Orleans really improved their discipline, allowing just three free throw attempts in that entire span (related: Stiemsma played in just 7 1/2 minutes throughout that stretch). The Spurs finished with 25 free throw attempts, but six of them came via desperation fouling in the game’s final minute, and removing those would put San Antonio right around their average of 19.5 per game.

Other game notes:

  • I can’t help but blame Monty Williams at least to some extent for tonight’s collapse. Throughout a bulk of the 4th quarter, he just sat and watched both Stiemsma get annihilated on the pick and roll and Roberts get sliced up by Parker. Does that mean that the same exact thing would not have happened to Ajinca and Rivers? Not at all, but why not find out? Make an adjustment instead of watching your team fall apart.
  • I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention Anthony Morrow’s great night again. He made almost everything he shot tonight, finishing with 20 points on 9 field goal attempts. Even more impressive was the fact that only 6 of those points came from long range, which is pretty unusual for him. However, when the team needed the long ball the most in the game’s final few minutes, he was inexplicably glued to the bench.
  • Tyreke Evans missed the entire second half after exiting the game in the second quarter. At the time, it looked like a rib injury; hopefully we’ll get good news about his status soon.
  • Austin Rivers attempted 4 free throws tonight. Austin Rivers MADE 4 free throws tonight. He also played fairly well otherwise, totaling 10 points on 8 shots and leading the team in assists with 5.
  • In case you missed the news before the game, Jason Smith will miss the remainder of this season while recovering from knee surgery. Smith is a free agent after the season, so there is a chance that he has played his last game in a Pelicans uniform. That being said, given the fact that Smith is the longest tenured New Orleans player and still a very useful bench player, I expect the Pelicans to do everything they can to bring him back. Smith has been nothing but a class act since he first arrived in NOLA, and all of us at Bourbon Street Shots will be wishing him nothing but the best.

Pelicans take on the Hawks on Wednesday night at home, and we all know how much fun it is to beat teams from Atlanta! Purchase those tickets now and get to the New Orleans Arena to cheer the good guys on to victory.

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