Pelicans M.A.S.H. Unit Can’t Close Out Rockets

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Published: April 12, 2014
Game Recap Lose 3

With 2:47 left, the Pelicans led the Rockets 104-96. When the horn sounded, the Rockets looked up and the scoreboard read 111-104 Houston. The 15-0 run was part Pelicans collapse, part Rockets clutch offense, and a whole lot of questionable decisions by the zebras.

After Dwight Howard split two free throws to bring the Rockets to within seven, the refs swallowed the whistle on strong drives by Rivers and Withey. Each time it led to turnovers, which led to wide open three-pointers in transition, which Patrick Beverley calmly nailed. Then, on the next two Pelicans possessions, we went to a video review to see who the ball was out on. Each time it was admittedly debatable. Both times it went to Houston. All this followed another questionable sequence in the fourth quarter that saw Alexis Ajinca’s face foul Dwight Howard’s hand amongst other things.

But, it is what it is and the refs only played a part in the meltdown. The Pelicans led since the midway point in the second quarter, and were up double digits most of the way, but they just couldn’t put Houston away. And to their credit, Houston hit huge shots late, scoring 39 in the fourth quarter after putting up 22, 24, and 26 in the previous three. They could have packed it in, but they did what they needed to do to get a much needed win. And that’s why they are a playoff team.

Other Notes and Observations

- Austin Rivers made three mid-range jumpers tonight. THREE. Coming into this game, he had made six off-the-dribble jumpers from 16-23 feet out. Six. Made three tonight. Teams keep going under the screens to keep him from getting to the rim. If he can add that weapon, it opens up so much.

- Luke Babbitt didn’t hesitate in the first half, and in the second half he took James Harden to the hole and got some easy buckets. His points were needed tonight, and it will be interesting to see if Dell keeps him and what Monty has him work on this summer if he does.

- Nothing great from James Southerland tonight, but I like his fearlessness. He doesn’t hesitate like Miller tends to do. If he has the shot, he rises up and takes it.

- Ajnca and Withey were just terrible in pick and roll defense tonight. They are so slow and they constantly came out way too high. The result was several wide open layups, including the two biggest ones down the stretch to give Houston the lead, and then extend it to three.

- Rivers had an up and down game, as he put up some good numbers early. He would have had a triple double, but he didn’t register an assist in the second half. Not because he didn’t pass, but because his teammates wouldn’t shoot. Just tons of pump fakes instead of rising and shooting. Ryan Anderson would have had a field day tonight, but nobody else on this team can get a shot off like him.

The issues with Rivers tonight was the free throw shooting (2-6) and the inability to make big shots late. He had an open three with just over a minute left that could have been the dagger. Still, he is a backup guard, not a guy who should be getting 45 minutes against a playoff team. He did fine tonight, all things considered, and if he grows as much this summer as last summer, we have a very good rotation player in Rivers.

- Anthony Morrow was fantastic again offensively, but the Rockets keyed on him late and he couldn’t get free. Gonna be much easier for him when he is the 5th guy on the court that the opposition has to worry about and not the first. Hope we get to see him in that role next year.

- Greg Stiemsma did not play tonight. If we are all lucky, we have hopefully seen the last of Da Steamer. I enjoyed the experience in one respect – He brought us all closer together. Normally there is arguing and disagreement, but we all bonded over our desire to see Stiemsma permanently benched. A round of applause for the man who created Unity!

- I went into this game not knowing who I would root for in a Houston/Portland series, but now there is no question in my mind. I dislike Houston WAY more. People give the Clippers grief, but Houston flops and whines and complains just as much, if not more. Go Blazers!

- I often see people say that Monty never shows he cares; that he just sits on the bench looking lost. I call BS. He was so into this game that I was afraid he was gonna get a tech for being on the court during gameplay. He was pacing up and down, constantly talking to players and the refs. Animated at the bad calls, and on and on. He cares and he made these players care about a meaningless game.

A lot to critique about Monty, heck I do plenty of that myself. But that one criticism doesn’t hold up in my opinion.

- Two games left; Home against OKC and these same Rockets. Then, a long offseason full of upgrades, recovery, and if we are really lucky, maybe some lotto magic. Go to at least one of these last two games and show your support for these second and third stringers playing their freaking heart out.

15 comments
jmald1
jmald1

TO B HONEST I LOVE DIS MONTY I KNO ITS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANYONE TO SUSTAIN DIS LEVEL OF EMOTION FOR 82 GAMES BUT I LOVE SEEING WHEN WE SEE BULLSHIT I WANT TO SEE MY COACH MORE OUTRAGE THAN A COMMON FAN. I LOVE WHAT I SAW FROM AUSTIN RIVERS I THINK HE WILL B A VERY SOLID SIXTH MAN SOON DEFENSE AND HIS OFFENSE EVOLVING BEFORE OUR VERY EYES. JAMES SOUTHERLAND IMPRESS ME HE LIKE A DARIUS MILLER WIT FEARLESSNESS LOL BUT I WANT RIVERS IN MORE EXTENDED ROLE WIT EVANS. I RIVERS TO B MORE OF A 2 THAN A POINT TO B HONEST HE LOOK GREAT AND HAD HIS MOMENTS IM LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT SUMMER LEAGUE AND WATCH TO SEE IF HIS MID RANGE IMPROVE 

champsworld504
champsworld504

This was a game that all 8 of these guys can build on. Thank you sweet baby Jesus Steamer didn't play. 2 more games left of Roberts and Steamin' pile............

Treme86
Treme86

So glad like everyone not to see da steamer.  I wish Withey would have shown up though.  Thought he had a good game against OKC, but nothing last night.  Can't wait to hear from yall on more potential summer moves.  

GerryV
GerryV

Rivers had some moments on the offensive end,but I M STILL NOT SOLD ON HIS PLAYMAKING AND TRUE POINT GUARD REQUIRED SKILLS…..delivering the scoring pass and quick advancement of the ball still need to be improved upon.The summer will be a good time for  him to do so.

PelicanSaints
PelicanSaints

Monty made all the right moves in this one....relegating the Da Steamer to a cheerleader was genius. ....Rivers played great, aside from the last few possessions ,hopefully he can build on this performance going into the off season. .....Babbitt showed a lot of grit,something this team needs. ..he's a keeper. ..

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

What a game!   I agree that Houston and the refs came and took that game away late, but the Pelicans took it to them for 3 quarters before that and the refs let them play for a change, without rewarding the uber-flopper.   Game balls to everyone who played and coached in this one, but especially Ajinca.  He was a monster!  

I'd like to see a "possession arrow" for out-of-bounds calls that are supposedly too close to reverse.  Just because the refs originally called it one way in real time is stupid reason to award two 50/50 balls in a row to one team.  If not an arrow, then make it a jump ball.  We would probably lose, but at least we would have a chance.

Rivers needs to jump when he shoots free throws.  His performance at the stripe needs to become a strength rather than a glaring weakness.   Can we afford a shooting coach?

I like Darius Miller as emergency backup point guard.   He seems to have little trouble bringing up the ball, and his passing is crisp.   

Good job, Monty!   Please learn from this....

xman20002000
xman20002000

I sincerely wish we can get this type of analysis every game... Loved the read..  adding to the narrative.. This is the type of game and the final games are more like auditions for next season.. At the end of the day,, we have to earn to take over a game..  It's not all about scoring but that killer instinct we don't have...  For some reason we don't smell the blood in the water..  and that was all season long.. something we expect from Gordon. but who knows..

Jason Quigley
Jason Quigley

I would have loved to see this team beat the Rockets. "second and third stringers playing their freaking heart out." That's really what this team is and I've loved every part of it. 

Steven J
Steven J

Great game to watch. Loved seeing my Pelicans overachieve. Can't explain the feeling of seeing the win within reach, only to have the Rockets sprint to victory laughing at our pain. I honestly believe keeper Steimsma off the court allowed us to play a competitive game. He has nothing to offer against Dwight out there. Hopefully Rivers can finish off the season strong. 

kibner
kibner

I'll be attending the last two home games. As long as Rivers plays, I will be happy. :)

PelicanSaints
PelicanSaints

@champsworld504 ...Don't be surprised if B Rob returns.....If he can't secure more money or a long term deal elsewhere, the Pels might bring him back for the vet min.....Da Steamer is a different case....Monty likes him, but I don't think that's enough for him to return.......

504ever
504ever

@GerryV  

Yeah!  When Rivers was part of an everybody's passing offense in the 1st half, he and the team were very efficient offensively.  In the 2nd half, Rivers reverted to more "hero ball".  He became a volume shooter, inefficient scored, and, as a result, picked up very few assists.

If I rank the Pelicans players last night, Rivers is 4th after Morrow, Ajinca, and Babbitt.

kibner
kibner

@NOEngineer  

The team supposedly hired one of the best shooting coaches around this past off-season. Wish I could find a name or article. :(

GerryV
GerryV

@Jason Quigley  They better play their freaking minds off! These are guys fighting to stay in the league and want to land a roster spot! If they had not played their asses off their reps would have been stained. A hot water cycle wouldn't have cleaned up their mess.