Flat Pelicans Performance Leads to 96-84 road loss to Pacers

Published: December 23, 2014

In the NBA, teams that make shots tend to do better than teams that miss. I know, shocking, right? That fact is true for more than just the obvious reason, though. When a team misses, the opponent gets to start its possession without the defense being able to get set. As a result, that opponent typically has a higher likelihood of scoring. The Pelicans @ Pacers game tonight was a case study in just that fact. While New Orleans’ defense was downright ghastly at points, it wasn’t as bad as the stats make it look. Bad offense led to bad defense, as Indiana scored about 67% more points on fast breaks than their season average on fast breaks (14 vs. 8.4), and 20% more points in the paint than their season average (44 vs. 36.6). Coming into tonight, the Pacers were making about 57% of their shots in the restricted area this season; 12.75/22.4 per game, to be exact. Tonight? 19/28, which comes out to about 68% shooting in that area. Again, while it’s fair to point the finger at the Pelicans’ defense to an extent, the offense should share some of the blame too, as missed shots led to easy scoring opportunities for the Pacers. Here is a look at New Orleans’ shot chart tonight:

Pelicans 112314

The number that jumps out the most, obviously, is the frighteningly bad percentage the Pelicans shot on non-corner 3-point attempts.  Apart from two players whose main value add in the NBA is to stand on the wing or in the corner and wait for the ball to be passed to them (Babbitt and Salmons), the Pelicans went 0-14 from 3-point range tonight. Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday accounted for 11 of those 14 misses. If there is a team that New Orleans can still beat despite perimeter shooting like that, Indiana has to be high on the list, but the physicality of the Pacers’ interior defense was simply too much for the Pelicans to overcome.

Other observations from tonight:

  • Just a really brutal night for both Pelicans point guards tonight. Holiday couldn’t get his shot to fall, and Rivers simply didn’t play very smart basketball.
  • Speaking of Brutal nights, no one may have struggled more than Ryan Anderson. He missed all six of his 3-point attempts and only collected 3 rebounds in almost 29 minutes of play. If Anderson is playing well offensively, the 3-big lineup is an attractive play for Coach Williams because of the versatility it gives the Pelicans on both ends of the floor, but one could argue that Babbitt may have been the better crunch-time choice tonight, scoring 10 points on his 5 attempts (all of them from 3-point range, and he was fouled on an additional shot from mid-range).
  • Roy Hibbert put on a clinic tonight on defense. Apart from Tyreke Evans, no one could score at the rim for the Pelicans with any sort of consistency. If there is a reason to re-watch this game, it’s to see the difference in defensive game plans between Monty Williams and Frank Vogel regarding how they use their rim protectors. Obviously, Hibbert is at a level that Asik could never dream of reaching from a shot blocking perspective, but it seemed like Hibbert was in better position to protect the rim far more frequently than Asik. Of course, Hibbert’s ability to knock down a mid-range jumper is an element to his game that Asik simply does not possess, either.
  • George Hill played his first game of the season tonight, and his impact was instantly felt for Indiana on both ends, especially offensively. Hill finished with 15 points on just 8 shot attempts, shooting from mostly high efficiency areas of the court. The his bank shot 3-pointer from the top of the key obviously helps, but even without that, a very solid night from a player who was sorely missed by his team.
  • Anthony Davis had his ups and downs on both ends of the court, but most of all, the guy is still learning how to play defense in the NBA. AD should be able to stay in front of a player like Solomon Hill, but he got beat a couple times by different Pacers players tonight. Don’t expect those kinds of lapses to occur 2 to 3 years from now, but for the time being, you just have to let him learn with experience. Offensively, it took Davis 18 shots to get 21 points, but his back-to-back 3-point plays in the 4th quarter kept the Pels alive until late in the game.
  • If there was a bright spot among the Pelicans’ players tonight, it had to be Tyreke Evans. Somehow, Tyreke was able to score at the rim when everyone else was not, and if he could get a foul call every once in a while in a non-garbage time situation, his night would have been even better. Tyreke finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals, using his athleticism to cause trouble for the Pacers at both ends of the court.

From myself and the rest of my Bourbon Street Shots team, we all would like to wish each of our readers a very happy holiday week. I’ll be in the Blender on Friday night to watch our Pelicans bounce back against the San Antonio Spurs, and I hope all of you will be there with me!


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