Pelicans Drop Heartbreaker to Wizards

The New Orleans Pelicans dropped a heartbreaker to the Washington Wizards tonight, losing 98-97 on a last second Nene dunk. We’ll talk more about the end of this game in a second, but generally, it was an ugly game, and one that the Pelicans should’ve won. Anthony Davis went to the line with the Pelicans down 1 and 7 seconds to go. He drilled the first free throw, Monty Williams subbed in Aminu and Withey in an attempt to shore up the defense, and then Davis drilled the second shot.

I thought the Withey/Aminu substitutions for defense were the right moves. But there was something missing: Brian Roberts was still in the game. His offense had been crap the whole night, but more concerning was the fact that he was left in for defense. Then the Wizards called timeout and Monty had a chance to rectify his mistake, and he didn’t.

John Wall got the ball and blew by Roberts like he was standing still, and help came over to contain Wall. Wall dumped the ball off to Nene for an easy dunk. The game was over (I don’t count that last ditch attempt).


General Notes

1st Quarter

  • Al Jefferson got off to a hot start versus Ajinca last night, and Nene followed suit by torching Greg Stiemsma early tonight.
  • Anthony Davis also started off hot, drilling 2 of his first 3 jumpers and scoring off a Roberts miss.
  • Saw some of the ugliest passes I’ve seen in a while in this quarter. From both teams. The highlight was a Nene no look flip that was 4-5 feet from its target.
  • Rivers injected some much needed energy near the end of the quarter and was very effective in that stint on both sides of the ball.

2nd Quarter

  • The scoring slowed down to start the half, as both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket.
  • Morrow hit a couple of tough jumpers to get things started
  • Jeff Withey got some run with Davis, and the duo played some very good defense. He is so much more mobile than Ajinca and Stiemsma. Give the guy time, please.

3rd Quarter

  • Stiemsma had a few early strips that led to easy Pelicans fast breaks. The Wizards weren’t exactly enthusiastic getting back and the Pelicans capitalized. After a decent start, Stiemsma reverted to early season form, allowing Nene to throw him around like a rag doll, getting a technical, and fouling. Was not pretty.
  • Nene also got hot to start the 2nd half, throwing down a couple of monster dunks. This guy is really good.
  • Anthony Davis had another solid quarter with 8 points.

4th Quarter

  • Kudos to Alexis Ajinca, who scored 9 points in the period. He hit a few mid range Js and had a huge And 1 off a dump off. He also had 4 big rebounds in the 4th.
  • In a theme of the night, Morrow also hit some big shots.
  • Rivers got yanked in the middle of the quarter for Roberts, probably because Roberts went off for 11 in the 4th quarter versus Charlotte last night. I get it, but I think it’s worth pointing out that Roberts continually gets the benefit of the doubt while Rivers doesn’t.

Final Notes

  • Nene just killed us all night. Midrange jumpers, dunks, you name it. He obliterated us.
  • Anthony Morrow is a very valuable sparkplug and someone I’d love to see return to the team. The energy, the shooting.. it’s just fun to watch him when he’s locked in. Not a big fan of when he gets in heat check mode and tries to create with the dribble (unless it’s versus a hard closeout), but I’m not going to criticize someone when he goes 7-8 from the field. Keep being you, Morrow.
  • Anthony Davis was on fire from midrange tonight. He put up 26 points in 33 minutes, and I think tonight would’ve been a good night to throw him in for close to 40. I get that it’s the second night of a back to back, but he’s 20 years old and he had it going tonight.
  • Eric Gordon was terrible offensively, but I actually thought he did a great job on defense tonight. He was fighting through screens and closing out hard. That said, the offense.. yikes.
  • Jeff Withey had a strong performance. He’s so aggressive going after shots, and he’s much more mobile than Ajinca/Stiemsma. I like him and think this would be a good time to develop him.
  • Austin Rivers also had a great performance, and his effort tonight was outstanding. So why isn’t he getting more time?
  • Tyreke had his usual out of control plays, but wound up with 7 assists and 7 boards. I thought he did a good job forcing the issue and setting up others, particularly Anthony Morrow. Much better than Roberts/Gordon on offense tonight, yet got yanked with 4 to go. Curious.
  • Al Farouq Aminu is Al Farouq Aminu is Al Farouq Aminu. He’s non-existent on offense. The corner 3 was nice and so was his transition dunk, but the guy is just lost in a halfcourt setting and kills our offensive flow. Where art thou, Darius Miller?

56 responses to “Pelicans Drop Heartbreaker to Wizards”

  1. Great recap – can’t add much, other than to complain that Nene and Gortat got away with a ton of hard contact, while we got blistered for soft caresses.   The offensive foul on Evans versus Nene was the height of ridiculosity.    
    I wish we had picked up Andre Miller.
    In honor of season ticket renewals received today, my 2014/15 master plan:

    Keepers:  Davis, Anderson, Holiday, Morrow, Rivers, Withey, Bsbbitt and Ajinca
    Trade bait: Gordon, Stiemsma, and Roberts.

    Don’t care:  Miller, Jackson.  Probably keep them, and watch them ride the bench.

    Wish I didn’t care: Evans, Aminu, Smith, Williams.  Probably keep them, and hope they improve….

    Who to get:  Billups, Perkins, and Bass.  Physical types we don’t have and sometimes need, with experience and toughness.  Don’t care that Billups and Perkins are old and offensively challenged.

  2. I completely agree with what McNamara was saying in a previous podcast about Monty and Dell not being on the same page.  Dell is eventually going to have to make the decision, and say to Monty, “It’s either you, or the both of us.”

  3. Roberts had to stay on the floor for that possession because rivers was sitting for about 10-15 min actual time. So he would have got beaten worse than Roberts maybe.

  4. Roberts should’ve been on the bench…Rivers or Evans should’ve guarded Wall……I like Roberts, because he plays hard,but he has limitations……The only bright spot of the night to me was the lineup of Evans,Gordon,Davis,Withey, and Morrow…..Pelicans need to find a SF in the worst way……Aminu is a back up at best……

  5. Steven J NOEngineerYeah, I admit he is bad.   I agree there are much better out there, and I hope we get one of them that is strong, defensive minded, and tough.

  6. Clearly a coaching loss. 1. Wall had just beaten Roberts driving to the right side of the lane on the play before to give the Wizards the lead. When Roberts went back onto the floor after Davis put Pelicans up by one, you had to expect them to go back to the well again. 2. Wizards went back to Wall, and this time both Davis and Withey pulled off their men to stop Wall, creating the open lane for NeNe. If both bigs instinctively knew they’d have to protect Roberts’ back, why wouldn’t the coaching staff know it? 3. A pass from Wall to the perimeter doesn’t get off in time to beat the clock. Only a dunk beats the clock. The thing you gotta do is make someone handle a pass in under a second and get off a scoring perimeter shot.
    Any other coaching staff takes the ball out of Wall’s hands and makes that team shoot from outside with the block expiring. Rivers has both the size and the game to do that. Roberts has never shown that ability. The one thing that Austin Rivers does without fail as a defender is to take away his opponent’s first move. There’s no excuse for sending Roberts back into the game to be the goat, unless tanking by coaching fail is now the strategy for the rest of the season.

  7. I’m just trying to get a line of what this season means for our future. Did we have to get the 8th seed this year? What were our expectations? I thought we were a project 2 or 3 years out of contention. May need a new coach now.

  8. I saw Davis get punished on a couple of plays..I saw Da Steamer get abused a a few plays…I saw late moments of poor transition defense by the Pels…i saw Wall go right to left vs Roberts ( Roberts still on Walls hip) and I saw Withey go and challenge Walls like a soft roll of kitchen paper!….met him deep in the lane and bounced doff Wall…SOFT!!…he left Nene and WHAM!…the slow tootsies of others failed to swarm on the ball….Walls handle was simply too much..( another example of how the ” hands of perimeter defensive rules” assist the “off the dribble jets”…….

  9. The most under coached situation in Basketball is Defending the inbounds passer…a- notice on the play how soft the defense is on the inbounds passer…allowed and easy toss in to begin the play…b- Withey simply gave away any chance to “show and recover to Nene”…Wall made a nice freeze dribble to chill Withey and nene read the play like a charm and crushed Withey….go back and follow the play from the start…of course my mind was saying…” crush wall and send him to the line!”……did Pels have a foul to give??

  10. Its to early to be watching a game replay,but i simply had to! One more thing..the Pelicans had ZERO FT ATTs in the 3rd quarter…ZERO..Wizards had 7 …..ok i gotta get on the sofa and sip coffee….Good morning..

  11. It’s absurd to blame this 1 point last second road loss (on a back-to-back) to a playoff team on one coaching decision with 7 seconds to go in a 48 minute game. The truth is that without Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday, this roster stinks. Imagine yourself as head coach and looking down this Pelicans bench at substitution time: which player who would be out of the NBA if he weren’t wearing a Pelicans jersey do I put on the court now? Do players who aren’t named Brian have any accountability on this team? With 2 & a half minutes left, did you see John Wall blow by two Pelicans defenders all the way to the hoop as if they were standing still? He’s an elite PG who may be the fastest player in the NBA. Like Austin Rivers was going to stop Wall from penetrating and dishing to Nene for the dunk at the end of the game? Give me a break. How about Eric Gordon’s 21 foot clunker jump shot with 2 minutes left and plenty of time on the shot clock that gave up a two point lead? How about Ajinca’s lane violation with less than a minute left that gave the Wizards an extra point (how many points did we lose by)? Bottom line: this team is bad without Ryno and Jrue and with no center, and it has no depth. Our shock shouldn’t be at one end-of-the-game coaching decision; it should be at the fact they were even in the game.

  12. It’s not any one particular situation. It’s the fact that what we see on the court shows that Monty puts more trust in Brian Roberts than Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, and Austin Rivers, who are superior players. It’s the fact that he never explores any alternatives to Aminu. It’s the fact that he thinks Steimsma and Ajinca are Roy Hibbert. It’s the fact that we are always losing games because of them, and nothing is done about it. It’s the fact that he never stands up for his players whenever they get absolutely hosed by the refs. We see the same basketball, and expect it game after game. It’s turning potential fans off to this team.

  13. It’s easy to sit on the sofa and microanalyze every action taken publicly by the head coach of a sports franchise and complain about each of them. What’s more complicated is thinking through the next steps after you help orchestrate his firing. It’s like the dog chasing the car: what does he do with it once he catches it? Monty Williams is the 5th head coach of this team since it’s been in New Orleans and the 2nd longest tenured. After the CP3/Shinn/Bower/Stern ownership fiasco and Tom Thibodeau’s rejection of the Hornets’ offer, it’s critical to ask whether some franchise stability is more important right now than minor disagreements about x’s and o’s and in-game line-up decisions. Old NBA head coach retreads almost always fail. Are there better coaches out there? Probably. Can you get them to come to New Orleans? Questionable. Do you have a Plan B, C and D in place that will be better than the current situation? Doubtful. It’s good that Dell Demps/Mickey Loomis et al have the right perspective and are running this team.

  14. Team needs 2 pieces…scoring small fwd and another big…..injuries have indeed hurt…Monty needs to be given a chance to coach this team…last 4 years has shook up the roster….get healthy and add some talent.

  15. Monty Williams is the lowest paid coach in the NBA believe me his buyout is peanuts to Benson.Avery Johnson to me is the coach in wating.

  16. Benson will have to overpay and go over the luxuiry tax if he want every game to sellout.Mello,Deng or LeBron an extreme longshots though he’ll have to pay in the $18 to $25 million a year range.Even with trading Gordon and/or Evans not just add more cap space or get some rotation player(s) or an starter in return.Gotat or Monroe would be good choices at center.If i was gm i would keep Ajenca,Morrow,Babbitt and holdovers Rivers and Anderson.Davis and Withey both have add weight and muscle in the offseason.You get both of these guys at 245 or 250 you’re talking they old Jazz of Karl Malone and Mark Eaton type of bigs.Withey would be that type of reserve big teams years from would want.

  17. Come On Pelican  I guess we are different.  Personally, I prefer to win, and there is always risks involved in doing so.  I’m sure the Spurs were taking a risk when they were replacing Bob Hill with Greg Popovich.  
    Losing sucks in anything you do, even when cheering as a fan from your sofa, which I am more than proud to say that I do.  I love the Pelicans.  And as a fan, it’s not unreasonable to expect the teams we cheer for and love to win.  Should freedom of speech be applied only to politics, and not to sports?  
    It’s not unreasonable, as fans, to hold players and coaches accountable when they lose consistently, and give us a consistently inferior product, as the Pelicans are doing now.  Some people act like we are violating a law or some type of code of ethics, when we, heaven forbid, criticize the coach when it’s warranted.  And some fans expect the absolute worst when a risk needs to be taken, such as the one involved when replacing a coach, or replacing players who are causing a team to lose.  I am not one of them.  
    Before this season, I was a very strong supporter of Monty Williams, and he is becoming increasingly more difficult to defend, and increasingly easier to criticize.

  18. I am like you in some ways, because I too am always watching the Pels, either in the stands, or in a bar, or on my sofa.  Cheers.  But are you saying you believe they would have won last night’s game with Roberts on the bench and Rivers on the court during the final possession?  If you don’t believe that, then what exactly are you saying Monty Williams did to lose that game? I think it’s much more on the players who were and weren’t able to play in the game.

  19. Gortat and Ryan Anderson are buds, so it might not be such a long shot. But if they go that route there will not be enough money to get a SF…..lets face it, if the Pelicans had a draft pick I don’t see any rookie coming in and starting…….Pelicans will probably will have about 10 mil to find a SF and or a Center……trading EG or Tyreke in my opinion isn’t going to happen, so Dell has his work cut out to find guys who’ll fit……………

  20. I think two writers on this site McNamara and Pellisier each demonstrated they lost objectivity and creditability regarding Coach Monty Williams. (And I’ll be the first to admit McNamara’s “fire Monty” tweet was worse.) I’ll only just address Pellisier’s comment here.

    Simple question:  Who on the Pelcan’s active roster could have stopped Wall on that last drive?  
    My answer:  Wall is 6’4, long armed, former 1st overall pick, super high quality, young PG whose elite skill is quickness and speed attacking the rim.  No one on the Pelican’s active roster and few in the league could have stopped that drive.

    So the day after, please tell me who you would put in and what film evidence you have to show he would have stopped that drive?

  21. 504ever It’d be foolish to pretend that I’m not frustrated with the losing. But I’m not a head-hunter and I’m not an advocate of scapegoating. I don’t think firing Monty solves all of our problems. I am one of the last to come to the conclusion that Monty is not the right coach for us.. whether that makes me the least observant or the most patient, I don’t know. My position that he must go at some point was not made tonight, and I was just as upset last night when Monty had Babbitt defending SFs when Charlotte had one legitimate post threat. I can go into more detail.
    As for the Roberts thing, you can’t analyze it like that. As a coach, you put the players with the highest percentage of succeeding on the floor. You’re right to question whether anyone else would’ve stopped him, but I think you’d admit and we all know that Rivers would’ve had a far better chance of stopping Wall than Brian Roberts. You can’t control everything as a coach, but it’s imperative to give your team the highest chance of success.
    Film evidence would be wonderful, but great defense is a long-term, consistent thing, not something you can illustrate by showing one or two clips of something. Anyone can be good on defense for a possession or two. Defensive on/off stats can be equally misleading. My eyes tell me that Rivers is a far better defender than Roberts, and if you disagree, then we just won’t agree that Monty made a mistake.. and that’s fine, because you threw out your point in a mature way. I have been wrong before and I will be wrong again, and I don’t mind a discussion. So thanks for voicing your opinion the way you did.
    McNamara can defend himself, but I think it’s worth noting that there have been several bad losses this season where the pitchforks were out and Mac did not join in.

  22. GerryV  Injuries have definitely hurt, and I am by no means putting this season entirely on Monty. I just think he has made some crucial mistakes this season and I think most of them come from him trusting players too much or not being willing to change things. Again, it feels unfair for me to criticize someone who knows far more about basketball than I do. But that also goes the other way, and if someone like me can see him making mistakes, it makes you wonder why he can’t. No coach is perfect, surely.. I just don’t think he’s the right coach for this team.

  23. GerryV  our inbounds work has been bad all year, and that extends to offense as well, where our guards have made predictable movements and have been blanketed by opposing defenders, rendering them unable to receive the inbounds pass.

  24. Remember when Buddy Diliberto picked Mike Ditka to replace Jim Haslett as the Saints head coach? Are y’all going to help select the next Pelicans coach after you get Monty Williams fired?

  25. I’m glad people don’t watch me work 8 hours/week and then offer their opinion about whether I should keep my job.

  26. Michael Pellissier 504ever
    Well written but where I lose you is when you don’t consider Monty’s limited options due to injuries: no Anderson, no Holiday, and no Smith.  In addition this was a the hardest back-to-back there is, a road-road back-to-back.  It is really a surprise Monty went with Roberts?

    And why did Monty not get credit for starting Stiemsma over Ajinca, as McNamara suggested in his recent article?  That was a really positive change that no one gave Monty credit for.

  27. 504ever Michael Pellissier  The circumstances weren’t favorable, and I’m not analyzing his actions as if they were. He had Players 1-whatever to use last night. I get that he has limited options. But Washington also gave us a great shot at that game.
    It is actually a surprise that Monty went with Roberts on defense. He has subbed Rivers in before for defensive purposes. Remember Houston? Kept running a 1-2 pick/roll with Harden/Lin to get Roberts switched onto Lin. He put in Rivers to combat this. Didn’t work out, but it was right move. Just like starting Stiemsma tonight was the right move, even though Nene shredded him. 
    It’s fair to say I should’ve highlighted some of the good decisions Monty made tonight. For one, I thought Babbitt’s services were of limited use because Washington has so much size on the frontcourt. I even said so in a pregame tweet from both my account and the Bourbon Street Shots one. But Monty also used 2 conventional bigs for much of the Charlotte game, which I thought was a huge mistake. You don’t need to play that way when McRoberts spends 80% of his time away from the basket. Same goes for Tolliver.
    Just to set the record straight, this idea that I have been anti-Monty for a long period of time is very, very far from the truth. Check out the Mid-Season Google Hangout. If you want, would be happy to link to tweets reinforcing this or an article where I bashed the Monty bashers.

  28. PelicanSaints Michael Pellissier GerryV  Good question, but I don’t have a great answer for you because I don’t watch college basketball and it’s not like I have knowledge of the assistants from other teams’ benches. Can only go on reputation and hearsay, and I don’t think that constitutes a good opinion.

  29. I definitely believe Austin could do better. I would love to see a stretch of five games where Brian Roberts simply doesn’t play, Aminu is benched, and Withey gets most of the minutes at center. How could it be worse than it already is?

  30. Michael Pellissier 504ever
    I read all of your stuff. I know where you stood in the past.  I just think you left there too quickly.

  31. I have to say a couple of things here. No one here is required to be objective. We are analysts, basically. We give opinions and conclusions, and we try to do that well. Also, we have many writers with many perspectives and styles. That is a good thing, not a bad one.
    I’m not slamming you, not even close. I’m just asking that this keep on as it is, and that is with data, cool heads, and discussions others can benefit from.
    Good show by all.

  32. Such overreaction. Everyone here is disappointed in the teams performance this season & the injuries but why are we attacking these sports journalist? This website is awesome for information. They are usually very objective. Stop getting ahead of yourselves, this isn’t New York. The media won’t get Month fired. Keep calm and have some King Cake.

  33. 504ever Michael Pellissier  probably could have spread the shift on the spectrum more evenly over time. Fair.

  34. lsucpolk Come On Pelican  Installing Pop was probably an easy choice, since he gave the job to himself. He was GM when he took over as coach. If a GM did that today, I would think he was crazy.
    Pop, of course, is bomb. 
    I think that Monty is feuding with at least one or two of his players right now. The culture looks bad, from the outside. I rooted for Monty through all the other years, but the reality is that you don’t get four years in the cellar in the NBA. He is young and will get another chance.

  35. I’m reading some comments on this article that are jaw-dropping amazing, but for all the wrong reasons. Several posters are saying that there’s no real problem with leaving Roberts in the game for those two possessions at the end because the Pelicans don’t really have a defensive stopper, so what difference would it make in the final analysis? Okay, except, duh: “We have no defensive stopper to guard John Wall, so, you know what, let’s put our WORST defender on him, because in the end, we’re all going to die, so why struggle against the inevitable . . . . We’re doomed, we’re all doomed. The Titanic is sinking. Anybody caught moving the deck chairs gets shot.” Really? This is an argument that makes sense? Why even play the game, then? Why not just call in the score, because anyway you slice it, we’re screwed and don’t really deserve to win. 
    No. The reason you put in somebody that plays better defense is because they object of the game is to TRY TO WIN.

  36. yaboytonez
    I am not sure were to put this but I will put it here.

    The Pelicans amazingly went 8-5 in the month leading up to the allstar game break.  Everyone seemed happy. Then they lost three in a row on the road, two of which were on a road-road back-to-back.  And people, more importantly two writers here, look at the last play of the on the last loss and call for Monty to be fired.  That’s not analysis.  That’s not information.  That is opinion that looks a lot like a super narrow focus causing an emotional overreaction.

    I believe what is needed here is perspective, a look at the larger picture.  That might be the last 45 days. That might be the entire season.  That might be multiple seasons.  It certainly includes that posters here tend to follow the writers’ lead.  If there was an article analyzing Monty’s head coaching career or even his last year that suggested Monty be fired based on empirical data (like McNamara’s article on line-ups).  Fine.  But that isn’t what happened here.  
    My call was to move away from overreaction and return to objectivity to reestablish creditability.  And I stand by it.

  37. Michael Pellissier GerryV  well if you say you don’t know as much basketball as he does how do you see the mistakes? ( needed to jab ya a lil) talent needs an upgrade …he needs to be given at least another year…

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