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!


  1. NOEngineer

    March 14, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    A well-coached game by Monty, and an excellent recap that covered all the bases.   It really came down to a clutch performance by Lillard, and average or below average play in the 4th quarter by Davis and the rest of the squad.    For the first three quarters Davis was fabulous…..
    As usual, I thought the refs favored our opponent in the fourth.  The last foul called on Davis looked like a clean strip, which instead turned into the dagger 3 by Lillard.   A clear foul on Davis at the other end was swallowed.   Lopez was banging on Davis and Withey most of the night, but only the super-obvious stuff was called.   Our home-court disadvantage is still going strong.
    This was probably one of the most competitive games of the season, with a really high quality of play other than Austin.

  2. HawnitsFanatic

    March 15, 2014 at 2:14 am

    NOEngineer  I thought Monty did a decent job tonight too. However, his infatuation with BRob has got to stop. A) Gordon should have been guarding Lillard in crunch time. B) The lack of touches for Gordon/Evans compared to Roberts in the last 5 minutes was despicable. I’m not even sure we ran a play for Evans in the last 3 minutes that I could recall. At least Gordon got a couple cracks at it when all else failed. It should be all Evans/Gordon late and instead we got treated to all Roberts dribbling around with no sense of urgency late.

  3. NOEngineer

    March 15, 2014 at 7:48 am

    HawnitsFanatic NOEngineerI can’t blame Monty too much for playing Roberts.  I thought Rivers did a better job defending Lillard, but the refs disagreed.   The only alternatives roster-wise would be to go big (probably worse on the defensive side) or go with Morrow who also wasn’t playing well.   As to Roberts hogging the rock, I don’t put that on Monty.  If Tyreke wants it, he needs to go get it and control it.   Roberts lacks the speed, size, and handles to penetrate when the game is on the line.  Gordon’s handles are just as bad.    
    The other thing to keep in mind is that Portland shot well.  40+ percent from 3 on 33 attempts will beat most teams most nights.  The way Aminu and Gordon and Evans all play 3-point shooters most of the time is to sag off and pack the paint.  That burned us tonight, but may be more of a personal limitation that a coaching philosophy.  Plus, they made a number of contested 3s to go with the easy ones.  That’s life in the NBA….

  4. bradlaborde

    March 15, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Portland without LMA is just better than the Pels right now. Other than that suit, hard to blame Monty for this one. Re: Steamer was nailed to the bench…. What do you know, AD can play some center. Career high and he tailed off in the 4th. i was hoping for 40+. I guess the coaches rewatched the Memphis 4th quarter….. The team looked confused on D most of the 4th. ….Rivers is in a bit of a slump. I hope he continues to get minutes.

  5. 504ever

    March 15, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I tuned in primarily to watch round infinity of Rivers vs Roberts.  You know when one guy pulls ahead the other one draws even and passes him (again!).  Before the game, I actually thought I might see Rivers lengthen his lead.  It was not to be.  Rivers started with 3 fouls in 6 minutes. He ended up with 5 in 9, winning the Stiemsma Award for the night!  He was also 0-3 from the field with 2 turnovers and 0 assists.  Roberts was the opposite, and his one turnover came from a poor pass by Evans to Roberts in the backcourt.  Roberts was 8-14 (for 19 points) with 5 assists and that 1 turnover scored to him.  So on to round infinity +1 of Rivers vs Roberts on Sunday.
    What I really took away from the game was how much better Portland is with their two additions at Center and SF: Lopez and Wright.  Sound familiar?  Hopefully that will be us next year.  I loved Lopez at C for us and almost every reason why was on display tonight:  Offense, rebounding, durability, hustle, veteran savy, etc.  (I don’t want to undo the Lopez trade. Just want to point out quality C play should be available.)  I also wanted us to sign Wright last off season and he showed why tonight; he is a quality 3 and D SF.  It’s just too bad he correctly saw Portland as being a better opportunity because of better and more seasoned talent.
    So, Pelicans fans, ponder what the team could be if we pick up a Lopez-like and a Wright-like piece this off season!

  6. adfly

    March 15, 2014 at 8:42 am

    That’s the defence Monty has been running Since he arrived. Pack the paint deny to drives and run out on open shooters. This will burn you any given night. Is it weird that Monty is a good coach with a terrible team, but fully healthy he made bad decisions night after night.

  7. PelicanSaints

    March 15, 2014 at 9:20 am

    I hate to pound on Rivers, but it’s was so glaring last night how bad he was….He couldn’t shake Earl Watson at all…..While Roberts had his way with him…..great comment earlier about Wright and Lopez prototype being exactly what we need. …..

  8. lsucpolk

    March 15, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Dislike the fact that Roberts got more minutes than both Gordon and Tyreke, outscored both of them, and outshot Tyreke.  The Pelicans will never win consistently when that happens.

  9. HawnitsFanatic

    March 15, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    NOEngineer HawnitsFanatic  I’m not defending Rivers or advocating playing him the way he was playing last night. I’m saying Roberts on the floor is fine. He’s proven he can make the clutch shots late recently. Roberts pounding the ball into the hardwood is not. There’s easier ways to get Reke the ball, such as just have him bring the ball up the court. What a crazy idea.

  10. Clef504

    March 15, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Really. No player is consistent every single game. I think his growth has really shown. Look at the past 20 games. Every writer and fan has said something negative about Roberts….consistently. One game and We see how “bad” Rivers is? You must be Monty’s personal assistant.

  11. champsworld504

    March 16, 2014 at 7:32 am

    I don’t care if Roberts had 49 points, he has to go! His mistakes get glossed over while Rivers gets benched for small things.

  12. NOEngineer

    March 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    champsworld504 By objective measures, Roberts contributes a lot more on offense that Rivers does.  Unfortunately, the defensive difference is harder to measure.   I think Rivers’ defense is far superior.   Until Rivers learns to finish with more efficiency and avoid unforced bad passes. however, he won’t be able to totally supplant Roberts.  Rivers also needs to be more decisive when passing to others.  They both need to get into their offense quicker .
    All that said, Rivers will benefit more from the minutes than Roberts would.  For that reason alone I would liek to see Rivers start and play 30+ minutes even if he stinks.   Same for Withey and maybe even Miller and Babbitt.    I’d like to have a reasonable sample size against starters, in order to judge these players and their future role on our team.

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