Pelicans Can’t Hold On, Fall to Grizzlies

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Published: March 13, 2014
Anthony Davis

The depleted Pelicans just couldn’t quite hold on for a victory against the Grizzlies, losing 90-88. Some nights you just don’t have enough firepower, and in the end this was one of them. Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans both missed the contest with flu like symptoms, and even a huge game by Anthony Davis wasn’t enough to take home another W.

After the game Monty couldn’t help but wonder what if. “We’re missing Tyreke and Eric and we lose by two points,” Monty said. “I’m thinking about what could we have done if we were at full strength?”

But after being unable to close out the Grizz at home for a fourth straight win, Pelicans fans are probably going to be thinking as much about a few decisions and plays as they are what would have resulted with a healthy lineup tonight. What if they hadn’t wasted a timeout trying to inbound and had it available to draw up a play to close the game? What if Monty hadn’t played Steamer throughout the decisive fourth quarter? Or what if Monty had found a way to get our star more involved offensively in the second half?

Despite some struggles,  things were looking good when Anthony Davis nailed two free throws with 3:22 left in the fourth quarter, completing a perfect night at the line for the Pelicans (22-22) and giving them an 88-81 lead, but that would be all she wrote offensively. Nola combined to go 0-for-5 with a pair of turnovers the rest of the way, paving the way for Memphis to close on a 9-0 run, stealing a win in the process. Tony Allen scored five of the final nine points and Marc Gasol had a key hoop as well, but it was Mike Conley’s bucket over the fingertips of Davis that closed the deal for Memphis.

That bucket put a damper on an otherwise impressive night for the now 21-year old unibrowed superstar.

He finished with 29 points on only 14 shots, 10 boards, 4 blocks, a steal and just one turnover. It sure is too bad that Memphis was able to shut him down entirely in the second half simply by switching Tayshaun Prince and James Johnson to him and doubling a bit more in the paint. Our lone offensive weapon accumulated a grand total of three shot attempts in the second half of the game.

Did you catch that?

Three shot attempts all half.

On one hand, I’m impressed that Davis was able to put up such a stat line with such a low volume half. His 29 points were more than any two Pelicans players scored combined. In fact, it was 13 more than anyone else had in the game.

On the other hand, I’m disappointed yet again that Monty didn’t make appropriate adjustments to keep Davis involved. He seemed content to stick with what worked in the first half, and was either unaware or unconcerned that Davis was struggling to make an impact on offense in the second. When your two best scoring options are your team’s seventh leading scorer or numero uno, you figure out a way to get your alpha dog the rock.

On my third hand, I can’t help but wonder if the Griz weren’t able to shut Davis down in large part because they finally realized that everyone else on the court is subpar. It’s not like Brian Roberts and Austin Rivers require double teams. Late in the game Darius Miller came in as a shooter. Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans may not be superstars, but they certainly draw more attention from the opposition than anything else the Pelicans had available outside of Davis.

Not to pile on Monty too much, but he rode the Greg Stiemsma train all the way to defeat tonight. The Steamer played just about every meaningful minute in the fourth quarter, and it’s difficult to understand why. He made mistake after mistake, doing nothing to justify keeping him out there. Yet instead of seeing some Jeff Withey (who played a pretty solid 6 minutes, scoring 4 points and grabbing 4 boards), Monty stuck with the veteran.

Sometimes I think Monty gives too much credit to veteran players simply for having experience. With 8:20 to go in the fourth, Stiemsma committed a useless defensive foul. Had a rookie or second year player done something this boneheaded, Money wouldn’t hesitate to get them out of the game, give them an earful, and then sit them on the bench for at least two millennia to contemplate what they did.

Yet the veteran Steamer remained on the floor…

It was no surprise to see him getting burned at the three point line after a pathetic attempt to switch on a pick and roll on the game winning basket. His positioning was terrible, and Conley took full advantage. Too. Freaking. Easy.

I don’t know that Jeff Withey or Double A would have been any better, but it’s safe to say they couldn’t have been much worse tonight, and especially on that crucial play.

Williams got the organizational stamp of approval before the game when Mickey Loomis said he would be back next year, but that won’t earn him a reprieve from bloodthirsty fans tonight.

Notes

  • The Party Perch has officially transitioned to the Whitney Parade Stand. Rejoice!
  • Austin Rivers set a career high with 9 assists. He added 14 points on 12 shots, but wasn’t able to connect on a three pointer late in the fourth quarter that would have given the Pelicans some much needed points.
  • The Pelicans last real offensive possession resulted in a 30 foot three pointer by Anthony Morrow. The score was tied at the time, and they spent about 12 seconds prior to the shot without ever getting the ball more than a foot inside the three point line. It was a fitting end to the game for Morrow, who went only 2-12. Sometimes shooters miss, but I prefer that next time he misses from a little closer if he’s going to take that shot with 5 or 6 seconds left on the clock.
  • Davis didn’t have a single drink at his 21st birthday party. It paid off. It’s pretty great how seriously he takes basketball.
  • Conley didn’t make a basket in the first half, and the game winner was his only field goal in the fourth quarter.
  • Our Pelicans managed more turnovers (17) than assists (16).
  • For what it’s worth, I thought the team put up a heck of a fight tonight. After hearing that Gordon and Evans were both out, I expected to witness a Pelican stomping. We might not have pulled out the W, but for 47 minutes and 57 seconds it really seemed like we were going to.

 

43 comments
Caffeinedisaster
Caffeinedisaster

I don't care what the final score says.


Playing against a west-playoff-bound Grizzlies team that made it to the West finals last year?

You're missing Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Jason Smith, Tyreke Evans AND Eric Gordon?

You lose by 2?


THAT'S A WIN IN MY BOOK!

GerryV
GerryV

..and Rivers got his doors blown off with 1.5 ticks to go..." off the dribble wind shook him"....

Jason Quigley
Jason Quigley

It's weird...the article and comment section is all about the coach, and I didn't even come here expecting to talk about him. God damn, the team came 1 floater away from beating a playoff Memphis team without 5 of the best 6 players on the roster, and you want to blame Monty freaking Williams? The thought didn't even cross my mind.  Criticize him in losses where maybe he has the opportunity to put good lineups on the floor. But could you honestly say he was in a position to do that in this game? 


Anthony Davis blocks that last shot by Conley and none of this talk would be going on right now. 

mateor
mateor

Withey appears to lack the size to be a long term answer at the 5. I went to the game saw him in person for the first time.

Austin appears to have the yips at the rim. He made a great slash to the basket in the 2nd and and dialed up a slight finger-roll lay-up, but actually appeared to flinch right as he got to the rim. He seems to really want to do well, he has turned me into a supporter, if not necessarily a believer.

fraunpetri
fraunpetri

Look, Monty has made some decisions that have us all scratching our heads. At the end of the day, he's the head coach and we aren't so his choices/experience will always trump ours, but it doesn't mean we can't question him. Getting this close in a game with a team like Memphis is an accomplishment given our injuries, but we still lost in the end. 

I appreciate analysis that looks at choices made which contributed to the outcome of the game and when we look at the choices our coach made, how can we not question him if we lose? Us N.O. sports fans questioned Sean Payton's end around on a 4th down play last season but because he won a ring and brought us to multiple playoffs NO ONE with a brain will ask for him to be fired. Monty hasn't been able to do either of those things for a variety of reasons, but we should always want to get better from top to bottom and if there are more appealing options at coach out there, we should consider them just like we should consider any trade with our players. 

I've become a bigger basketball fan because of this site. The analysis by the writers here has helped me to understand more about the game. If we can't be critical about a loss or a losing season where we won't keep our draft pick I don't think we're properly supporting the team. Personally, I give Monty one more year and then re-assess but his seat is definitely getting uncomfortably warm. Imagine if we had Thibs come here instead of Chicago, how do you think our team looks? It's worth considering.

mojart
mojart

its tough...im on the fire monty campaign this season because gerrity said it best on his recap....i think I've already seen enough...monty's been here for 4 years and i don't see improvement especially in WINS...and again don't blame injuries..blah..blah..blah.every team is suffering from that i.e bulls...cp3 and dwest bailed him out in his 1st season and after that nothing is happening..same old plays..same old pace....and i taught defense is his specialty...can't see it either...sorry...just my opinion...love monty but i think he is not the right coach for this team......

504ever
504ever

Here is my complaint about the "anti-Monty" writing I see here.  Last night the Pelicans were without: Anderson, Holiday, Evans, Gordon, and Smith.  That is a very strong starting 5.  And they were still a basket from winning.  So does Monty get credit for the attitude and effort his players showed?  For keeping a game the Pelicans had no business being in based on talent 1.5 seconds from overtime.  No! And why not? I say that it is a negative bias against Monty.

Then there is all the arguing about which of our three 3rd team bigs (Ajinca, Whithey, and Stiemsma) should have been on the floor.  They are all we have; three 3rd team bigs who split about 48 minutes a night.  They all have huge weaknesses.  Whithey's include conditioning, which I believe limit his minutes nightly.  But don't focus on Stiemsma defending Conley on a 3 pt shot (which you thankfully admit the others may not have been any better at), and not mention Stiemsma's crucial block running the floor and his baseline steal.  Omitting those plays paints an inaccurate picture of his game.  

So does the "riding Stiemsma to defeat" line.  In a game like this, any error was a problem: Rivers cross court 'pick 6' pass to Allen, Rivers turnover after the double timeout, Morrow not being closer to the basket on the last possession in the front court, etc.  And again, Monty should be commended for being able to keep the game close in spite of those plays.

Finally, there is the idea that Monty should have done something about the double teaming of Davis all over the court, not just in the paint as was mentioned in the article.  The entire point of double teaming one player is to make the other players beat you, and the Pelicans didn't have the other healthy players to do that.  Beside Davis, there were only 2nd and 3rd team players on the court.  That isn't Monty's fault.  So why was he faulted?  Again I say negative bias against Monty.

This team continues to outperform its talent level, and the coach gets no credit.  I can't understand why.

Reggielegendary
Reggielegendary

Why so mad Pelican fans? At this point, you WANT to lose. The more losses = more ping pong balls. The more ping pong balls = better draft pick which you'll keep. You lose the pick if it's out of the top 8 or 10 I think. Believe the mandate has been passed onto Monty...LOSE at all costs. It's tank time in New Orleans. But I like that kid Davis!

dbeard06
dbeard06

I am reading these comments about all the negativity coming from this site. But it warrented negativity. I am tired of folks taking up for what's happening. We had a good enough team, injuries included, to be at least close to .500. The reason we are not there is because rotations are crap and bad decisions are being made by both players and coaches! Greg Steimsma should not be allowed in an NBA locker room ever! Yet he still get more playing time than both Whithey and Ajinca, who have been MORE productive. Brian Roberts is NOT a PG, he plays better off the ball. Yet he continues to get more time at PG over Rivers and Tyreke. Babbitt has been our best weapon to spread the floor and open the lane for Davis to dominate, yet he is on the bench for no reason. Even when we need a scoring punch he continues to sit. And yes, players do have trouble executing, there is no ball movement, too much dribbling in one spot. Not enough cutting actions, etc.! All this compounds to why the season has gone this way. But for us to sit back and not be say anything would be like looking at the games through rose colored glasses. This team as built could be much better, even with the injuries, but responsiblity has to be taken at the top first!

bigindian
bigindian

I think Monty should stay next year unless we could get either George Karl, Stan Van Gundy, or maybe Jeff Van Gundy to replace him.  And none of those is happening.  Replacing him with either a retread or another inexperienced but talented coaching prospect doesn't do anything except force our guys to learn yet another new scheme.

bradlaborde
bradlaborde

Disappointing even with Evans and Gordon out based off the way it played out. In a superstar league, it's important to get your superstar the ball. That didn't happen in the 2nd half. Last year, Monty said he had a binder full of plays, but Grevis couldn't execute them. I still haven't seen said plays. Same old stuff. The Pelicans should have won that game last night.

PelicanSaints
PelicanSaints

I agree that some people come to this site just to be negative and bash everyone associated with the Pelicans. That's just the world we live in, besides most of there comments are baseless and laughable .....enough of that.....The guys played hard last night and the defense was great up until the 4th quarter. I would've liked to see Monty call something for AD down the stretch and took the ball out of Rivers hands...Rivers is getting better, but still has a lot to learn. ....I thought Morrow and Rivers tried to play hero ball down the stretch. ..David Wesley said it best , the Offense should have gone threw AD on every possession down the stretch. ...that's on Monty. .....but even with the lost last night , I'm still on board with the Pelicans. ..I'll be at the blender for the next two games. ...Can't wait until next season. .....

Come On Pelican
Come On Pelican

I honestly can no longer stomach the constant negativity and second-guessing that's come to predominate this site and your sister site pelicansreport.com.  Though I've been a Saints season ticket holder since 1992 (and a Hornets/Pelicans ticket holder since they came to New Orleans), this type of constant sniping and whining is the same reason I stopped following similar online sites about the Saints.  I had higher hopes for this site, and for a while it really was different here.  Maybe it's just something in our genes here in the Crescent City.  Maybe we just can't help ourselves.  Remember when we killed the 1984 Worlds Fair with all of our complaining and negativity?  If y'all actually do end up getting Monty Williams fired eventually, I hope you think back to all of this when the next head coach ends up being worse and when Anthony Davis ends up leaving us like Chris Paul did.  And then, perhaps I'll be dead or too old to care once New Orleans no longer has an NBA franchise.  I hope y'all enjoy each other's company.

mrcatz22
mrcatz22

Monty's love for Veterans is what makes me scratch my head the most. We have so much youth but it doesn't make much of an impact if none of them get too many minutes (glad Rivers is getting more). I mean, I get it if you want to try and win as many games and you want to put in your best option to win but in our case the young guys seem to be the better options at times.

GerryV
GerryV

Withey is a backup type.....

GerryV
GerryV

Monty needs to get next year and Avery Johnson needs to stop making so obvious what his plans are.

GerryV
GerryV

and you guys don't have a clue what has happened to this team...offense took a major hit with injureis and that has also hurt the teams defensive depth.....get an upgrade on the frontline and find a SF that can score the ball.....amen,.

GerryV
GerryV

Yes! injuries galore.....no 3 ball talent...defensive talent?.....Monty deserves another year...too many changes over the past 3 years

bradlaborde
bradlaborde

@504ever Double teams happen. Curry, Lillard, Durant, Love, Kobe, James, Melo, Harden all see doubles from time to time. At the end of close games the whole arena knows the names above are getting the ball. How do those teams do it? When a team doubles your best player, obviously that means someone on the floor is open. We all agree to that, no? Keeping guys like Steamer on the floor the whole 4th invites double teams and in no way makes your opponent pay for that double team. The problem is, Memphis changed their defense. Instead of the Pels countering with something different or a different look they kept trying the same things. It's the same reason big leads have been blown by the team in the past.

If the pels are outperforming their talent level, what should their record be? AD aside, what do you see concerning pace, scheme, and rotations that we can use as a positive going into next year? If people have a 'negative bias against Monty', would you say you have a positive bias towards Monty? It goes both ways.

agomila
agomila

@Reggielegendary Because they are NOT going to get a top 5 pick.  Just isn't going to happen.  If the Pelicans lose every single game they have left, they STILL might not get a top 5 pick at this point.

macs21
macs21

 So you're saying a team with a starting line up of Roberts, Gordon, Aminu, Davis and Stiemsma is good enough to go 50/50 in the west? When you have a bench that's running with Rivers, Morrow and Ajinca as your 3 best back ups for about half the season due to Tyreke's various ailments?

Whatever you're smoking, I'd love to know where you get it..

You talk about Babbitt being a key piece, dude has been around for about a month out of 5. That's 20% of the season.

Sorry buddy, but despite the fact that we have a bona fide superstar (who is by no means a defensive anchor yet) there's absolutely no way a rotation comprised of;
Rivers/Roberts
Gordon/Morrow
Aminu/Morrow
Davis/Babbitt
Ajinca/Withey
for over half the season is gonna win much more than 30 games in a conference that might require 48 wins to even make the playoffs.

bradlaborde
bradlaborde

@Come On Pelican

P.S. The World's Fair was awesome, but an economic flop. It failed to bring tourists in. Locals are the reason it had any success. Locals are also why there are festivals almost every weekend of the year. You're off base with that one, Come On Pelican.

bradlaborde
bradlaborde

@Come On Pelican

Website: I enjoy the Pels coverage on this site. The group of writers are from around the world and want to see the team succeed. If "What do you think" articles are your thing, there is a local newspaper/website for that. Coverage of the Pels by that local paper panders to the lowest common denominator and is pure garbage.....Negativity: With sports, negativity often comes from unrealistic fans (listen to an LSU fan after a loss). The franchise is somewhat at fault for this for their win now moves made last offseason. BUT INJURIES...blah blah blah, it's part of the game.....The future: AD is an amazing player and the reason I renewed my season tickets for the 2014-15 season last night. Most games, I sit in a half empty arena hoping to see improvement that will eventually lead to the joy I had after the Hornets beat Dallas in the playoffs and Soul Rebels had everyone dancing outside the arena. A slow offensive pace, undisciplined defense, and questionable rotations aren't getting it done.

Maybe it's me though. Instead of complaining about the complainers, post what you see as a positive for the Pels moving forward. We're all listening.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes moderator

For what it is worth, Come On Pelican, my feelings are similar to.yours. There's some baseless scapegoating going on. Monty isnfar from perfecr, but so are other coaches. Baseless or baseful, it gets old... I just just I could fire a so-called fan or two. It's one thing to want what is best for your team... It's another thing to be a bandwagoner in lifer clothing.

wilthomas178
wilthomas178

@Come On Pelican  dude..all this site is asking is MW don't play players who are not as talented as another players..or at least dont play them as much..

dbeard06
dbeard06

@mrcatz22 Isn't this the same thing that burn Byron Scott in the end. I don't know what these coaches see in crappy veterans!  If Steamer is playing like crap, BENCH HIM!!!!!!!!!

mateor
mateor

I agree so so much, Gerry. I think the Mavs could have won at least one more ring if they had Carlisle earlier. I can't suffer through another New Orleans coach whose priority is putting rooks in their place (Byron Scott)

mojart
mojart

Maybe you can tell that to dell demps our GM

GerryV
GerryV

you can run the same play and use differetn " counters' and sometimes it helps having a guy on the floor thats always open for the purpose of swinging the ball,pressure release,screener..so what would you have run?...leads have been blown because of the lack of defensive talent and lack of offensive punch....injuries have wrecked the offensive.

504ever
504ever

@bradlaborde @504ever

Right, the problem is Monty because he had so many other choices of two way players who could both score and guard Gasol besides Stiemsma.  And Stiemsma's man was always double teaming Davis?

We weren't watching the same game! The problem wasn't Stiemsma (which I thought I covered above) nor was it Stiemsma's man on the double team.


P.S. All the guys you name can bring the ball up the court and don't have to be fed the ball in certain spots on the floor.  That makes them all very different than Davis.

dbeard06
dbeard06

@bradlaborde This is a very sensible response.  It is about time someone gets it!  People need to be held accountable, and that's what we do as fans.  Our passion for this team causes us to be reactive.  But it shouldn't always be an excuse.  When the team does well, we celebrate and get excited!  When the teams does not, we should be able to vent.  We are the fans and we support our team.  We will continue to hold EVERYONE accountable, players, front office and Monty!  No one should get a pass.  They get PAID to do their jobs!!!!!!

dbeard06
dbeard06

@macs21 Here's the thing, we have seen coaches do well with less.  Look what's happening in PHX. Youngest team in the league and they ONLY have 2 legitimate stars (Bledsoe and Dragic), yet they are making it work!  And Bledsoe has been INJURED!  That's what coaching does my friend.  The job of a coach is to put his team in the best position to win and the last game that did not happen because of a rotational error.  I will NOT continue to listen to excuses.  Excuses are for the weak!  You do whatever it takes to put your team in the best position to win and until that happens, people will continue to question Monty.  Period!  I agree he should get 1 more year with a healthy roster, but as far as his coaching, it HAS to be more flexible.  Stubborness will only get him canned sooner!!!!

PelicanSaints
PelicanSaints

I agree...besides plugging in obvious holes at center and SF...we need to retool the bench as well.

Steven J
Steven J

@bradlaborde @Come On Pelican  I agree with you 100% Bradlaborde. I come to this site to see articles about the Pelicans, good and bad. Every now and then I check out the newspaper website and they post a lot of what do you think articles. I like your criticism and welcome it. Please continue to be critical of the coach as all teams do. And of players who play bad. If the team is losing, someone has to take credit for losses. Even if we only had 4 players and no coach, someone is going to be held responsible. 

bradlaborde
bradlaborde

Aminu with the start. I think a lifetime contract is in store

bradlaborde
bradlaborde

@504ever @bradlaborde Well I happen to think AD is a capable defender.  He can guard Gasol just fine.  Memphis had T Prince on AD. 

We were watching different games indeed. 

macs21
macs21

@dbeard06 That's great.. They also have about 8 healthy NBA players on their roster.
We, on the other hand, have an undrafted player as our starting PG who's maybe good enough to be a 4th guard. Rivers at this point is a 4th guard as well.
Eric Gordon is our only starting calibre guard who has been healthy for over half the season.

They have dragic who should've been an all-star, Gerald Green who has been playing lights out since Bledsoe went down. Bledsoe who a legit combo guard. PJ Tucker is a classic 3 and D guy. Then channing Frye is probably the 4th or 5th best stretch big in the NBA. Just a little better than Babbitt...
They've got both Morris twins coming off the bench, each of whom would either start at SF for us or at least be our first big off the bench. Maybe even start at SF and PF and shift the brow to C, although I personally prefer him at PF.

Bledsoe has missed less games than all of Holiday, Anderson and Smith. He's their one injury.

Take away 3 of their top 6 players and you're left with something like Dragic/Green/Tucker/Morris/Morris with Alex Len and Archie Goodwin backing them up. No ones coaching that line up to more wins than this Pelicans team will get.

You say excuses are for the weak.. Scapegoating a coach is a much bigger excuse than simply stating the fact that it's pretty hard to win in the NBA when 4 of your top 8 rotation guys miss more than 20 games each. Especially when 3 of them miss over half the season.