New Orleans Pelicans Set Records Against the Timberwolves

Published: November 15, 2014

Good teams defeat the teams that they should beat; great teams demolish them. After playing a terrible final four minutes against the Lakers on Wednesday, it was clear that they were not going to let up off the gas if they got a big lead tonight. The lead became double digits early on, then hit twenty in the second half. Then thirty. Then before you knew it, they were up forty. Then, dare I say it, 50! The intensity wavered a little bit from time to time, but every time that it did, the players were reminded of Wednesday night and the rout continued.

Records were broken tonight at the Timberwolves expense. Most points in a half (80). Most points in a game (139). Most FG’s made (56). Highest Effective Field Goal Percent (75.6%). The offense was amazing, and this wasn’t a terrible defensive team. The Pelicans just started hot and never let up. The Pelicans got into the paint at will (56 points) and hit their three’s as well (15-20). As Bryan Gates noted at the half, “the guys were willing to make the extra pass.” The ball moved freely around the perimeter, and even though the team only had 17 fast break points, they played with tremendous pace throughout the game. After rebounds, they got the ball into a guards hands and got into their offense incredibly early.

The guys said all the right things after the game. Jrue claims that the team is starting to click, while Austin loves the chemistry he and Ryno are building off the bench. And yes, tonight was a great sign, but it won’t mean anything if they go out and lay an egg on their upcoming road trips. 9 of their next 11 are on the road, and they will go face to face with teams that they will be competing with for a playoff spot this year. The Pelicans will travel to Portland, Sacramento, OKC, Golden State, and LA (Clippers). They won’t need record-breaking performances every night, but they will need guys to show up and help Anthony Davis against the top teams in the league moving forward. Demolishing the Timberwolves and refusing to let off the gas is a great sign, as this team continues to show flashes of greatness – and those flashes are getting longer and longer with each passing game.

Notes and Observations

– Confidence is a real thing, and the Pelicans top players have it right now. Austin Rivers has improved his skill set, but more than anything you see him brimming with confidence. Eric Gordon looked shook after the first few games, but he has had a bounce in his step these last few games. And what can you say about AD? He clearly knows he is the best player on the court every time he steps onto it and doesn’t hesitate on the offensive end. Ryno and Tyreke never lacked confidence in their offensive game, and now Jrue is coming back around to his All-Star level – good luck NBA.

– Luke Babbitt can hit some shots, but in the last two games we have seen him try to defend Kobe and Andrew Wiggins, and you shouldn’t be surprised that the results were horrible. He is the backup small forward by default (see below), but his destiny in this league seems to be as a solid small ball four. With Ryno and AD at that position, we don’t need that from him right now, so he is forced to play out of position. He went 4-4 from three tonight, so the good outweighed the bad, but the defense is bad. Real bad.

– John Salmons didn’t even see the court in a game we led by 53. That says a lot. Darius Miller got 17 minutes and didn’t log a single rebound, assist, block, steal, or free throw attempt. He went 1-3 from the field and picked up 4 fouls. Like I said, Babbitt is a SF by default at this point.

– The Pelicans were able to switch a lot defensively tonight – both on off-ball screens and on-ball screens. Save for a stretch in the third quarter when the Pels lacked a little focus (up by 50+), the Timberwolves really didn’t get any easy looks. The Pelicans defense made them work for everything, and if not for some questionable calls by the refs, the Wolves might have had trouble breaking 80 tonight. Asik, in particular, was impressive as he was able to stonewall Pekovic. And outside of a bad foul early on by Eric Gordon, the Pelicans perimeter guys did a terrific job on Kevin Martin. The offense is fun, especially on record-breaking nights like this, but this team will go as far as its defense will take them, and it is trending toward average.

– Tyreke Evans had his head up a lot more when he was driving to the hole tonight, and the result was a couple of easy points for AD. He also was able to finish at the rim (10 points in the paint). Again, a great sign, but I want to see it against the top teams. At the end of the day, these guys will be measured by what they do against playoff teams, not the Magic, Lakers, and T’Wolves. We need more performances like the one we had in the first 44 minutes against the Spurs when we play top teams. If we see a couple of wire to wire wins against top tier teams, then we have real reason to get excited.

– So many good things to say about the performance tonight, but the biggest takeaway is that you see this team growing before your eyes. It is becoming more and more clear what they want to do on the offensive end and there are better rotations on the defensive end. Even after defensive breakdowns, you see these guys getting together to discuss what went wrong. It’s a process, and they are growing. If they continue to grow both individually and collectively, they will terrorize the rest of the league.


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