Pelicans buried from deep by Blazers

Published: March 14, 2014

After flirting with it for two weeks straight, Anthony Davis finally got a new career high tonight, scoring 36 points on a variety of dunks and jumpers.  It didn’t matter, though, as the Trail Blazers took three after three and managed to hit 42% of the 33 they let fly with.   In a game where the free throw attempts were even (before the free throws the Blazers got as the Pelicans fouled to extend the game) the 42-9 advantage from deep was insurmountable.

Minus Aldridge, it was pretty obvious from the start of the game what the Blazers gameplan would be.   Starting wing Dorell Wright at power forward, they immediately ran a double screen to pop Wright into the corner for a three as Davis chased him.  For the next several possessions that continued, running Davis around the edge and trying to get shots – or to find Robin Lopez rumbling to the basket on a pick and roll.  With Davis on the perimeter and Ajinca too slow-footed to be effective, this ended in a lot of easy looks.

With Ajinca unable to get anything going, Monty kept the two-big rotation short, playing Ajinca only 10 minutes and then relying on mostly Aminu to play the power forward while Anthony Davis got most of his run as the center.  Later, when Davis needed a rest, Monty inserted Withey, leaving Stiemsma firmly nailed to the bench.

When crunch time came, however, Anthony Davis wasn’t able to get it done, as he missed three straight attempts and the Blazers scored on all three of theirs, and it was pretty much ballgame.  The shots weren’t really good ones, but this is the time for Davis to get those shots and figure out how to score in crunch time.  I hope in the next close game, he gets the same opportunities.

Other Observations

  • Tyreke Evans said before the game he was still queasy, which is why he didn’t start.  Despite that he played 35 minutes and was all over the court, playing strong defense, getting the ball at the elbow and drawing multiple defenders, and executing his usual one-man-wrecking-ball assault in transition.  Some of his passes to Davis tonight were simply brilliant as he wracked up 8 assists.  You could tell though that he was exhausted by the fourth and gasping for air.  Hope he gets over the sickness fully by Sundays game.
  • Roberts was locked in on his midrange jumper tonight.
  • Austin Rivers was awful.  He’s had more good games than bad of late, but tonight he could do nothing right.  Turnovers, inattention, bad fouls, bad gambles.  He managed 5 fouls in 9 minutes.  At least he did knock down all 4 free throws he took.  I guess.
  • Morrow is either amazing or amazingly bad.  Tonight he kept attacking off the dribble, and that was just not what the team needed.  He ended shooting 1-8.
  • They ran my favorite misdirection play tonight twice to get Anthony Davis open for a shot.   It starts in the horns position.  Anthony hands the ball off to a guard, then slips baseline like he’s going to set a pick for the wing who is crossing in the paint.  Instead, that wing, usually the mighty Tyreke Evans, sets a pick on Davis’ man, giving Davis a few steps as he darts by, crossing through the paint.  At the same time, the Pelicans point guard slips into the paint and sets a second screen on the guy chasing Davis.  That leaves the team with the option of letting Davis get an open look, or having their point guard try to contest him.  Advantage Pelicans.  Love it.
  • I wrote about how bad Lillard is finishing on drives this season in the game preview.  He made me eat my words tonight.
  • Batum, who is actually shooting threes at under the league average for a wing this year, buried some ridiculous three pointers tonight.  Shots he had no business even taking in some cases.  I hate that.
  • Anthony freaking Davis is amazing.  AMAZING.

I can’t wait to get a complete team next year.  Just can’t wait.

Next game is Sunday against Boston!


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