New Orleans Pelicans Lose Close Game to Washington Wizards

Published: November 30, 2014

The New Orleans Pelicans fall to 7-8 in a surprising 80-83 showing in Washington.

What was so surprising? Well, not the loss . . . I expected that. The manner in which they lost actually surprises me.

Sure, the game featured the early scoreless runs. In fact the team spent most of the game down by single digits and constantly poke-poke-poking at the Wizards, never letting them get comfortable.

Sure, their guards did well and got into the paint (All 5 of Wall’s field goals were in the paint, 1 of Miller’s 2, but only 1 of Beal’s 5 . . . 7 of 12 in the paint total for the guards). This was not nearly as devastating as I expected. Frankly, I was impressed, in context, by the defense.

I also expected Gortat to play well, but I expected him to occupy Asik. Gortat, however, played 41 minutes (more than all players . . . Davis played 40), and certainly occupied Asik (who only scored 1 point, was 0 of 4 from the field, and had 2 turnovers compared to 9 rebounds and a steal). Gortat, however, also did some work outside the paint and away from the lane. He tied Davis for a game-high 13 rebounds, game-high 4 blocks, 2 steals, 2 assists, and just 1 turnover and 2 fouls. Outside the points, he met or exceeded Davis in the other categories. If he made it to the line a couple of times (he attempted no FT, kudos to Asik who has been getting a bit of a raw deal on his performance tonight), he may have bested Davis there, too. Still, as a squad, the bigs were comparable.

So how did the Pelicans manage to lose this one, one in which they were leading (only by 1) with 3:47 left in the game? We can pick apart the end of the game, and there’s something there . . . losing the rebounding battle overall, allowing a killer Beal put back off a Gortat miss that could have very well been rebounded, for example. Taking a wider view, the Pelicans had just 1 fast break point (compare that to 15 by the Wizards) and just 1 block (compare that to 9 by the Wizards). The block difference likely tipped the game in actually taking away shot attempts from the Pelicans, and they came from across the roster: Gortat (4), Pierce (3), Porter (2). The fast break differential, though, is the consistent killer. Those are high efficiency plays, and the Pelicans just had no access to them. They have the horsepower, and the absolutely have to figure out a way to get some points on the break on a consistent basis. I know, I know . . . easier said than done.

Furthermore, apart from Holiday, the guards had poor offense. Evans and Rivers were horrid in direct scoring (3 of 20 from the field and 2 of 4 from the line . . . all Rivers there . . . for a total of 8 points on 20 shots). They did manage 7 assists and 4 steals on 2 turnovers, but that is just not enough successful passing when they are scoring so poorly.

Salmons and Babbitt were nice surprises. It’s not that they played in some killer way, but they managed to be a nuisance and make themselves the best of the available options. 13 points on 9 shots in 46 minutes. Not really helpful, but efficient at least. Babbitt also had a nice minute annoying Gortat.

Next up, the Thunder in New Orleans Tuesday night.


  • Will Rivers get the start again?

He did. He tried, too. He was working his tail off when I was focusing on him. He was zipping around like a water bug trying to get some decent passes. He only took 5 shots in 29 minutes. He just did not do enough to make up for his poor scoring. If Monty has not made up his mind, maybe he’ll give Jimmer a chance to work out the kinks with full confidence that he’ll get a run for a few games. Still, Monty is big into limiting mistakes, and Rivers took ok shots and only had 1 turnover. From that perspective, maybe he did just what he was supposed to do and was 1 basket away from looking decently efficient. Overall, I expect Rivers to keep the starting spot going into Tuesday. Limiting mistakes does have value, even if it’s not exciting.

  • Will Davis return with a bang?

He did, of course.

  • Which Pelicans guard has the best game tonight?

Holiday. My favorite Pelican. He doesn’t get enough credit because he’s not flashy. That’s fine by me, but people are missing out on a really solid player. Is he “great?” No. But he’s under-appreciated. Expect me to stump for him more in the future.


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