Moleskin Moments: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Charlotte Hornets

So at this rate, the New Orleans Pelicans are asking a lot of me, based on the analytical stat of them being 1-0 when I attend their games. Playing against Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets, or Bobnets (the other rendition of that gimmick probably sounds too much like a curse/slur), the Pelicans were hoping to pick up a win after a couple of tough losses. New Orleans still hasn’t played a complete game, I was definitely curious to see how the rotation would be affected by a couple of poor games, and being on the second night of a back-to-back (and with John Salmons missing another game).


Questions: What highlight does Anthony Davis give us today?

Is there more cohesion between Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans?

Over/under 2.5 nightmarish images from Pierre the Pelican.

Do we need to put out a Missing Persons’ report for Eric Gordon (and/or the doctors that let us know he is hurt?)

  • First things first, parking was a nightmare. I usually walk from a safe distance to the game, but after running late, I had to park near the arena. If I circled Smoothie King Arena anymore, I’m pretty sure cops would have pulled me over for suspicious behavior.
  • When I got to the game, I met up with another Bourbon Street Shotter, and when I asked what the game looks like, he retorted with “It looks like Charlotte is playing with a buzzer that no one else can see, shooting at random.” Welcome to week 2 of the NBA season, where teams still have no fluidity on offense.
  • Coach Monty Williams is running the defense exactly how we thought he would on the pick and roll, by dropping whoever is playing center, and having the power forward hedge/show. Anderson often showed, but didn’t hedge all the way out. On the instances that Davis was the center, he was a scary sight when he dropped down. I would love to see him drop down no matter the position, no guard likes driving against him or Asik when they lay low and the court gets awfully small when Davis’ wingspan is in full-spread in front of you.
  • Russ Smith saw his first action of the season. He played four minutes in the first quarter, picking up two fouls, having two turnovers, and missing his only shot, a three-pointer. He did play decent defense.
  • Alexis Ajinca looks like Gumby out there. He seems to have no control of his body, like a boy who has just gone through puberty. He immediately dropped a pass from Austin Rivers and picked up a foul.
  • Ryan Anderson has been working on his fadeaways. He nailed a couple today, both off isolation plays. It is not the go-to set I’d have in mind, but allowing Anderson to create his own shot means the team can get creative with who they put around him.
  • Cellphone Stat Check- The score is 30-30 and both Davis and Lance Stephenson have only two points. November basketball during back-to-backs!
  • Right after that, Davis switches out on Stephenson, who pulls up so that Davis has to leave the paint. Stephenson tries to drive by Davis, and gets rejected at the rim. It results in a delayed fast break, with Ryan Anderson hitting an open three.
  • First “Why Gordon?” moment of the night comes with 28 seconds left in the half. Progress.
  • Of course, that moment was him handing the ball over to Charlotte in a moment of street-ball carelessness.
  • Text-Message Alert: “Gordon is brutal” is received at 8:02 pm.
  • Second Half commences.
  • It took a second to process, because it hit all the bottom of the net, but Gordon airballed a jumper that was 2-feet shy, and no farther than 10-feet from the basket.
  • Cellphone Stat Check: Shot chart reveals, that shot was one step to the right of the paint. Brutal.
  • Tyreke hits a three! This is exciting; if Evans can keep making from beyond the arc, it should really clear the lane open for him and Holiday to penetrate.
  • It is so good watching the kind of superstar that dives for loose balls. Davis is always going at it 100%. It has a huge effect on a team, watching their star player give it his all like that.
  • Holiday’s unselfish passing is so refreshing after watching a season filled with Brian Roberts taking midrange jumpers with 18 seconds left on the shot clock. (Roberts made one of his five shots for the Bobnets tonight.)
  • Really pretty sequence at the 2:30 mark in the third quarter. Holiday runs a high pick and pop with Anderson. When the pop doesn’t open up a shot, Anderson cuts quickly to the paint. Holiday threads the needle, finding Anderson, as Davis’ man comes to help out. Anderson finds Davis, who gets fouled and nails both free throws, making it 67-56 Pelicans.
  • Maybe the play of the game was another high pick and roll for Holiday, this one with Davis setting the pick. Davis does a soft pop near the top of the key, and then rolls hard, with Anderson setting a loose pick on Davis’ man. It was enough space for Davis to easily catch Holiday’s lob and throw it down for the dunk.
  • Holiday’s proclivity to let go of the ball early in sets is a thing of beauty. It allows the talented passers, shooters, and cutters on the team time and space to work. He is definitely the best initiator of the offense. As much as Evans is able to get into the paint at will, there were a few times today where he held on to the ball for a split second too long before passing out. It will be interesting to see how these two learn to coexist with each other. Last year I called out Coach Williams for not including Evans’ in any of the top-five most used lineups with Holiday, for I felt the two needed to create a rapport. If these guys can both learn to be aggressive at the same time, and have two talented pick and roll players on the court with them in Anderson and Davis, this offense could be explosive.
  • With 26.8 seconds left in the third quarter, Ajinca comes in. I jokingly wager with the fellow BSS, “do you think he picks up a foul?” He does.
  • And then another one while we’re on offense, with .4 seconds left in the quarter. Ajinca is like playing 2k with a worn out controller where the intentional foul button is jammed in. Forcing your guys to randomly foul at inopportune times. Loose ball foul, two more free throws. (Five fouls in five minutes for the day.)
  • Cellphone stat check: When did Davis get a double-double? He has 18 and 12 and I literally had no idea.
  • Rivers’ first step has always been his greatest asset. But his runners used to look like an out of control car praying for a streetlight to end it all. Now, he is playing some beautiful basketball.
  • River runners, Evans three-pointers. This is happening.
  • Some perimeter player literally fell down while trying to drive on Asik tonight. It wasn’t the only instance either. He is a scary man down there, and this team is going to shut opponents down all year when he and Davis are patrolling the paint. (The Pelicans gave up eight points in the nine minutes that Asik played in the third quarter. In the other three minutes, they gave up nine points.)
  • Text message alert: Friend sends me “Too early for MVP chants.”
    • “They were for Jimmer.”
  • Gordon played 28 minutes without making a field goal today, missing all six of his attempts.
  • Meanwhile Evans had a great fourth quarter, making four of his eight shots for nine points, three rebounds and an assist. He finished with a double-double as well, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds along with five boards.
  • Holiday finished with 16 points along with nine assists. He had three assists in the fourth quarter.

The Pelicans got a much needed win against an opponent that actually fields NBA talent. After sloppy games against a buzzsaw offense in Dallas and then a juggernaut defense in Memphis, it was nice to see the Pelicans win a tight game. Scoring 100 points against the Bobnets is no small feat, especially on the second night of a back-to-back. The bench unit still leaves much to be desired, and the team obviously has a ways to go before they can consider themselves to be clicking on all cylinders on offense, but the Pelicans left the game still holding on to two of their huge overall improvements so far this season. The Pelicans are still first in the league in rebounding, and top-5 on points allowed per game, both huge improvements. New Orleans will have a nice little break before playing the San Antonio Spurs on the road this Saturday, and then traveling to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers on Monday (Bourbon Street Shots watch party at Tracey’s). The Pelicans will return home on Wednesday to face off against the Los Angeles Lakers.

5 responses to “Moleskin Moments: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Charlotte Hornets”

  1. Great article. Fans get overexcited about new FAs, but it’s crazy how Asik is everything we thought he would be for us. Defense is literally keeping us in games especially at the beginning when our shots aren’t falling. Hopefully we can sure up out bench as the season goes starting with Austin Rivers. I’ve seen a lot more good stuff from him this season starting with his confidence. His strength of driving to the basket is being complimented by his ability to make shots and draw fouls. I like Ajinca on offense and I think against the right Centers he could hold his own on defense. In other situations we might think of bringing Withey out, but I doubt we see him for a while.

  2. Congratulations on your work.  I truly enjoy reading your pieces.  I think a lot has to do with your style and coverage as a “fananalysist?” (reminds me of the David Cross character in “Arrested Development”), but it is truly refreshing and enjoyable.  Can’t wait for your next piece.  Keep it up and I’ll keep reading!

  3. Steven J Asik is the perfect fit for Davis. Rarely is a paper fit as good on the court, but it truly seems that way, and we’re only four games into the season. The defense will only get better as rotations get sharper and a rotation gets tighter. Exciting watching this team on both sides of the ball. 

    Austin Rivers is playing great. He’s always had a great first step, but his balance on his floaters and drives is so much better this year. Keeping his poise throughout, he clearly is our best perimeter player off the bench at the moment.  Ajinca just needs to get to his spots quicker on defense. Once he does that, he’ll foul less, and have a great impact on our second unit, while also lessening the burden on the Asik/Davis/Anderson trio.

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