Pelicans lose game of runs to Raptors in 108-101 Defeat

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Published: February 10, 2014
Game Recap Lose 3

Five runs. That’s all this game was tonight. The Raptors threw the first punch, and the Pelicans responded. The Raptors threw another punch, and the Pelicans again responded. The final seven minutes were closer, but New Orleans was outplayed down the stretch and fell a little short. Let’s take a look at each of the five stretches that made up tonight’s contest.

Run #1: Raptors 38, Pelicans 23 (14 minutes 30 seconds) – Raptors 38, Pelicans 23

Key Players: Roberts, Gordon, Aminu, Davis, Stiemsma/Ajinca (Pelicans); Lowry, DeRozan, Ross, Valanciunas (Raptors)

Key Stats

  • 3-Point Attempts: Pelicans 0-0, Raptors 5-8
  • Points in the Paint: Pelicans 10, Raptors 8
  • Pelicans’ shot chart:

Pelicans run 1

Run #2: Pelicans 26, Raptors 7 (7 minutes 30 seconds) – Pelicans 49, Raptors 45

Key Players: Rivers, Morrow, Evans, Babbitt, Davis (Pelicans); Vasquez, DeRozan, Novak, Salmons, Hayes (Raptors)

Key Stats

  • 3-Point Attempts: Pelicans 3-3, Raptors 0-3
  • Points in the Paint: Pelicans 14, Raptors 2
  • Pelicans’ shot chart:

Pelicans run 2

Run #3: Raptors 37, Pelicans 15 (11 minutes 30 seconds) – Raptors 82, Pelicans 64

Key Players: Roberts, Gordon, Aminu, Davis, Stiemsma/Ajinca (Pelicans); Lowry, DeRozan, Ross, Patterson, Valanciunas (Raptors)

Key Stats

  • 3-Point Attempts: Pelicans 0-4, Raptors 4-7
  • Points in the Paint: Pelicans 4, Raptors 12
  • Pelicans’ shot chart:

Pelicans run 3

Run #4: Pelicans 22, Raptors 5 (7 minutes 45 seconds) – Raptors 87, Pelicans 86

Key Players: Rivers, Morrow, Evans, Babbitt, Davis (Pelicans); Lowry, Vasquez, DeRozan, Novak, Salmons (Raptors)

Key Stats

  • 3-Point Attempts: Pelicans 1-1, Raptors 0-4
  • Points in the Paint: Pelicans 12, Raptors 2
  • Pelicans’ shot chart:

Pelicans run 4

Run #5: Raptors 21, Pelicans 15 (6 minutes 45 seconds) – Raptors 108, Pelicans 101

Key Players: Roberts, Gordon, Evans, Babbitt, Davis (Pelicans); Lowry, DeRozan, Ross, Patterson, Hansbrough (Raptors)

Key Stats

  • 3-Point Attempts: Pelicans 2-4, Raptors 1-2
  • Points in the Paint: Pelicans 8, Raptors 8
  • Pelicans’ shot chart:

Pelicans run 5

So, there you have the game in a nutshell. Were the Raptors the more talented team (given both squads’ current bill of health) going into tonight? Probably, and that conclusion speaks to their 21-15 victory in the game’s final 6:45. That being said, the Pelicans continue to beat a dead horse with the starting lineup that they trot out there game in and game out. After tonight, seven of the team’s nine most commonly used lineups have outscored its opponents this season. The remaining two – ranked #3 and #4 in minutes played – are outscored by 15.6 and 6.3 points per 100 possessions respectively. Those lineups are Roberts-Gordon-Aminu-Davis-Ajinca and Roberts-Gordon-Aminu-Davis-Stiemsma.

I’m not saying that, given all of the team’s current injuries, there is an easy solution to this problem. That being said, there are ways to manipulate player rotations that minimize said problem far better than the lineups which are currently being utilized. I am 100% certain that Al-Farouq Aminu brings more to the table as an NBA player than Luke Babbitt, but the fact of the matter is that the Pelicans were outscored by 24 points in Aminu’s 19 minutes tonight and they outscored the Raptors by 21 points in Babbitt’s 20 minutes. Basketball is all about playing the right five players together in the correct situations, which is by no means the same thing as playing the five best players together. With more strategic deployment of the team’s available resources, New Orleans could have won tonight. Unfortunately, a couple bad runs with players whose skill sets clashed too heavily with one other proved to be the difference.

Next up for the Pelicans are the NBA-worst Bucks in Milwaukee at 7 PM Wednesday night.