Pelicans go small, can’t handle Suns
Down three and under a minute to go, I certainly wouldn’t have drawn up a pull-up three pointer from Tyreke Evans tonight. Of course, neither did Monty as the Pelicans had a little bit of Hero Ball going at the end as each guy tried something that maybe wasn’t their best skill to win the game. Honestly, I don’t care. The team fought gamely all night long without Davis in the line-up. They overcame multiple bad stretches of play to fight back into it – and they were continuously getting into the paint and getting easy shots.(that they missed more than they should)
I did appreciate Monty’s gameplan tonight. Faced with a bunch of guys who like perimeter shots, he played only one big most of the night, with Stiemsma and Withey only playing together for a few short minutes. That kept the Suns from being able to unload from deep like they usually do – and if although Gerald Green got hot on a series of pull-ups, I thought the extended defense was solid tonight.
Perhaps the weirdest part of the game tonight was that both teams typically hand out fouls and free throws like candy. Tonight the two teams combined for 27 free throws. That’s normally the number of free throws attempted by a Pelican opponent in the first quarter! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But it doesn’t feel like I am sometimes.
- Babbitt had a huge impact defensively tonight. Not because he’s a major force or anything, but because the Morris Brothers were certain they could take that dude. They kept catching, stopping the ball, taking Luke to the Mid post and since neither of them are much of anything off the dribble . . . took contested fadeaways. They finished 7-20 for 16 points. Thanks to Luke for looking exploitable.
- Aminu’s whole game tonight was a brain fart. They were running sets like he was Anthony Davis, but his off the dribble game was sloppy, his energy was low, defensively he didn’t get back well, and several times he wouldn’t come meet the ball on passes to him, leaving it exposed. In the second half, he had three anticipation bounce passes where he assumed some player would be. Maybe he’s used to Davis being there – or Ajinca – but Stiemsma was the only other big, and he’s hardly the master of cutting to the open space. After the third bad pass, Monty pulled him for good.
- For a lot of the game I felt like the Pelicans did a good job slowing Dragic. Of course, he finished with 20 points on 14 shots and nine assists, so clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about.
- Rivers is too frequently intent on pounding the ball in semi-transition. A lot of the time he has to finish the successful advance of the ball up the floor with some sort of dribble flourish – behind the back, two dribbles between the legs. Etc. Sometimes, it causes him to miss open looks for multiple teammates. This is why it’s hard to convert a lifelong scoring guard to a point.
- Withey made himself available all night long and showed a knack fading back from the paint when a guard drove. That little fade gave him multiple opportunities to be in an open spot when his man moved to protect the paint. Those opportunities turned into a lot of nice dunks. Withey’s defense and ability around the basket is very nice. Let’s hope added strength adds rebounding prowess as well.
- The energy was so dead in the first quarter. Tyreke was barely jumping on his layups. Aminu was playing, fast, loose, and sloppy. And then Morrow checked in – and he was shouting at teammates, jumping around, competing – and it was infectious. I love Morrow.
- I liked Monty Williams starting the game with Darius Miller on Dragic. I was confused that Bledsoe didn’t see that Roberts was guarding him and waited until the third quarter to start torching the smaller guy.
- I like that Anthony Davis won’t let the team declare him out for the rest of the season. What do you think?
Next game is Friday in OKC!