Pelicans Drop Hawks to Open Babbitt Season

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Published: March 21, 2014
Game Recap Win 1

Like a bad itch, it was just eating away at him. Monty Williams put in Luke Babbitt late in the 3rd quarter and it paid serious dividends, opening up acres of space for the rest of the Pelicans to operate on offense. His shooting was on, his hair was questionable fabulous, and everything was going right. But Pero Antic is a big fella and was pushing Babbitt around down low and trying to steal his lunch money. Monty wanted to put in Greg Stiemsma so badly.

Then something amazing happened: nothing happened. Right after Antic hit a fadaway 2 from the baseline (plus the foul), Monty didn’t budge. We have seen him pull offense for what is perceived to be defense time and time again, but he didn’t pull the trigger. After a few more possessions, he had Stiemsma ready to sub in for Babbitt, but Babbitt forced his hand by drilling a 3 (and I’m sure Babbitt seeing Stiemsma at the scorer’s table had a lot to do with how quickly he hoisted that shot). Timeout was called, and I was shaking my head, waiting to hear “Greg Stiemsma has entered the game” from ‘Nique, who kept talking about what a difference Babbitt had made in the game. But again, nada. Monty took a risk and I loved it.

But like any other Pelican game, good news was met with a serious buzzkill, as it was announced in the 2nd half that Gordon (who left the game much earlier) had sustained a knee injury. It is reportedly a left knee injury and we will be sure to keep you up to date as we receive details.

Other than that, the game was a repeat of a very, very positive trend. Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans have been simply unstoppable in their time as starters together, and tonight was much of the same. AD wound up dropping 34 points and Tyreke posted 21 of his own. There were some pretty ugly turnovers mixed into each of their nights, but the positive tilted the scales like Glen Davis after dessert. Bad joke, but great stuff tonight from each of these guys.

The Pelicans had some questionable defense down the stretch, but they were money at the free throw line in the late 4th (even Rivers!) and escaped from Atlanta with a nice victory.

Box Score

Player Notes

  • I am running out of positive things to say about Anthony Davis. He is light years ahead of where he should be this early in his career. Every game is a showcase of a player that I can’t see being worse than a top 3 player in the NBA. He is a freak of nature, works hard, and is mature beyond his years. We are so freaking blessed.
  • Tyreke Evans was a turnover machine to start the game but managed to get himself under control and have another very solid game. Teams know exactly what he wants to do and they just can’t stop him. It will be interesting to see how this holds up when he plays some tougher, smarter defenses, but right now, there aren’t really any negative things to say. Keep Rekeing Havoc, big fella.
  • Luke Babbitt has already been mentioned, and his shooting was absolutely huge tonight. And as much as the inclination is to say that him guarding Antic is trouble, I really don’t think that many good things came from it. In fact, it may have even taken Antic away from the 3 point li…… okay, maybe that’s a stretch. Antic beat him for position on the boards and Millsap bully-balled him under the basket when Babbitt got matched up on him. But he wasn’t killing our defense, and when his shot is on, he changes our offense. He did that tonight.
  • Austin Rivers got into a jawing match with Jeff Teague after blocking his shot at the rim. Didn’t see what they were saying to each other, but was a fun storyline that developed late in the game. Rivers’ defense was excellent to close the game, aside from a costly ghost foul on Teague late. He also fouled too much. But Rivers was a big part of the run in the late 3rd/early 4th and I thought he played very well tonight. He also hit a pair of key FTs at the end of the game.
  • Brian Roberts is never the king of decision-making or defense, but once again hit some big shots and FTs down the stretch to help the Pelicans. I am still confused as to what has happened to his 3 point shot. He appears to have less confidence in it than he had last year and I’ve always felt comfortable with him shooting from deep. It puzzles me.
  • I’ll be frank and say that I don’t really remember a lot of things that Al-Farouq Aminu did. I remember a big board and a key deflection, but not much else.
  • Alexis Ajinca once again struggled with foul trouble. At one point in the game he spun into a ridiculous fadeaway off the glass (and yes, it was intentional). The offensive rebound putback was, er, ugly, but he also covered for a couple teammates on his 2 blocks tonight.
  • Anthony Morrow’s shot was off tonight, but of course, that didn’t stop him from taking them. Fine by me. Morrow has bailed out our offense plenty of times and the only thing I question with him on offense is the occasional iso game he plays when he’s in heat-check mode. Anything else is gravy. Keep firing away, AMo.
  • Greg Stiemsma only played 13 minutes tonight and Jeff Withey/Darius Miller didn’t get too much burn either. Don’t really remember much about their games tonight besides Mike Scott ripping away a rebound from Withey like he was made of tissue paper.

The Pelicans face the Heat tomorrow. Shall we see some more small ball?

 

4 comments
NOEngineer
NOEngineer

Nice victory over a depleted playoff(?) team that was on a roll.    Their uncharacteristic 3-point futility was offset by our unusual generosity, and the difference makers were AD and Tyreke.    Keep playing them together A LOT!!!!!!!   All the Babbitt excitement just shows we need to be taking our open 3-pointers.   Simple.

Starters:  Rivers, Morrow, Evans, Davis, Withey  - I like it now, and I'll like it even better when Holiday takes his place instead of Rivers.    I'd be very happy with this (with Holliday) starting lineup in 2014/15.     The offense will make up for a few defensive weaknesses and a slight rebounding deficiency.   It will be entertaining, and I want to be entertained while we win.

Next year's 2nd unit, in order of minutes:  Anderson, Rivers, 3nD1, Aminu, Ajinnca.  I think we go 10 deep, even in the playoffs, due to our funky combination of talents and our propensity to foul.....

RolePlayerz:  LockerRoom, SparkPlug, BulkyBig, and 3nD2,    

Out:  Stiemsma, Miller    Seen enough.  Bad D, rare offense, marginal rebounding and little upside from either guy.  Even if we can't keep Smith, I want Stiemsma to be elsewhere.   

If Babbitt can learn to play our D, then he could be one of our two 3nDs.   Get busy studying,    Jason and Pierre could be here as our first two RolePlayerz.     We need to find BulkyBig and 3nD2 out there, somewhere, hopefully by trading Gordon.  If we have to keep Gordon, he should play as a 3nD guy, not handling the ball unless he has a clear path to the basket.  Not my first choice, but we can't always get what you want when you want it.  Roberts could take Jackson's place as guard of last resort if trading the SparkPlug nets us a chance at meeting a more pressing need.   A boring offseason...

PelicanSaints
PelicanSaints

I can see a scenario where the Pelicans keep them both, but at expense of Anthony Morrow. ..If they should loose Morrow , I think they should go after Jodie Meeks to fill Morrow's spot ......

Pluto D
Pluto D

Fun game. Thrilled we didn't see Stiemsma come in the 4th for "defensive" purposes. With only a dozen or so games left though, I'm still puzzled to see him out there more than Withey. No chance of making the playoffs, this should be that part of the season Monty refers to as "development" time. 

Really liked what Rivers did tonight. Excellent defense, forcing turnovers, getting to the rim. Ridiculous ghost foul there at the end. He literally was touching Teague's hip. With another offseason coming up, there's no reason he can't be our permanent backup PG next season. I really hope we hold on to him, if it comes down to keeping him or Roberts. 

There was some article on ESPN by David Thorpe about "disappointing" seasons by sophomore players, and it appeared Rivers was on that list. It's an Insider article so I couldn't see what was written after the opening paragraphs which read "For these five men, though, there has been ample opportunity for them to consistently impress. But this season they have all taken a step backward or sideways. Here are the most disappointing players of this class..."

Are you kidding me? I thought Thorpe was reliable. If he watched any Austin Rivers this year and had half a brain he would know that he's improved leaps and bounds over last year, no question about it. "Taken a step backward or sideways"? Great evaluation. Great job doing the least bit of research. These national media guys really do a great job doing their jobs.

Anyway, good win. You just can't overemphasize the fact that AD is THIS good already.


nolahog
nolahog

Davis said he was still feeling off because of his infection in the first quarter, then he said Ish "gave me something."  Obviously they had him chug 3 bottle of Robitussin, cause he was straight Robo-trippin' the rest of the way.  Love this guy.


Babbitt, baby!!!!!!