New Orleans Pelicans’ New Lineup Wins

Published: December 5, 2015

The New Orleans Pelicans (5-15) defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-108 in overtime at the Smoothie King Center.

In the pregame post, I noted that rebounding would be a key, along with not only scoring efficiently, but also actually hitting baskets at a high rate generally. The Pelicans managed to succeed in both areas and came out on top. The Pelicans scored their 114 points on 85 shots compared to 108 points on 89 shots for the Cavaliers. Anthony Davis and LeBron James were the leading scorers for their teams. Davis had 31 on 22 shots in 46 minutes while James had 37 points on 29 shots in 45 minutes. This leaves the rest of the Pelicans with 83 points on 63 shots and 71 points on 60 shots for the rest of the Cavaliers. Not only were the Pelicans more efficient in general and across Davis’ supporting cast in general, the Pelicans converted 42 of 85 field goal attempts, which is a very high rate.

The Pelicans led the Cavaliers in rebounding 46 to 43, and for it to be close was a miniature win for New Orleans. To come out ahead is quite a surprise.

Besides Davis’ great game, one in which there was another injury scare with his left ankle, Eric Gordon had a great scoring night, including 4 of 5 from 3, and Dante Cunningham did a little bit of everything in the win. Cunningham only had 6 points on 5 shots and added 3 assists and 8 rebounds. That doesn’t really capture the effect he had on the game. This tweet is closer:

The new lineup seems to have some merit, and Gentry will likely keep the key aspects of it intact for while. Additionally, aside from the quick start by the Cavaliers, one in which JR Smith had 15 points in the first quarter and 18 points total. The Pelicans also displayed some nice attitude today. They were aggressive after the start, which helped them score efficiently and set the tone. The Pelicans’ defense had it’s issues in the fourth quarter, at least with respect to LeBron James, but it was solid and confident for long stretches.

Gentry on the game:

“I thought we did. I don’t think we’re going to play great for forty-eight minutes. You’re going to go through some situations where you struggle to score, but all-in-all, I thought we had a pretty consistent forty-eight minutes and then you add the overtime. I thought we did a pretty good job.”

It’s just one game, but they are 4-6 in their last 10, and help keeps coming to life off of the inactive roster. The Pelicans look to improve Monday when they host the Boston Celtics, which is available through all the normal channels, plus NBA TV.


  1. NOEngineer

    December 5, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Props to Gordon (limited time offer, one game only).  His efficiency makes a bid difference between us winning and losing games.
    Free throws aren’t free….  Almost cost us another game.  What is the deal with our efficient shooters missing 1/3 to 1/2 of their FTs?    
    I thought Dante should have been 6th man of the game.  His rebounds were key, and several times he was the only Pelican who tried to get the rebound.  
    I’m curious how many of LeBron’s misses came with Asik on the court versus off.  Gentry was obviously subbing him in for defense, and it seemed to work a bit.
    Best game of the year for Holiday.   Not so much for Cole.  I would have rather seen some Ish in place of Cole when we were getting stagnant.  He will find shooters 10X more often than Cole.

  2. Come On Pelican

    December 5, 2015 at 8:27 am

    The most interesting thing about last night’s unexpected
    victory over the Cavs is that, during Game 20 of the season, this coaching
    staff finally began to exhibit some signs of an ability to coach up the players
    they have on their roster during an actual game.
    Exhibit A:Playing
    Dante Cunningham (a player who is averaging 22 mins. per game) 37 ½ minutes and
    giving him primary responsibility during those minutes for defending LeBron
    (this was something I actually suggested as a comment to Jason’s Cavs pre-game
    post); 1 of the only 3 shots King James made while Dante was guarding him (3 of
    LeBron’s 7 points against Cunningham) was a ridiculous 30 foot pull up jumper
    in the 2nd quarter while Dante was standing at the 3 point line
    waiting for James to move in; the only way the Cavs got back in the game in the
    final minutes of regulation was to start setting picks on Dante, leading to
    switches and forcing other Pelicans to defend LeBron – which enabled James’ scoring run
    toward the end of the 4th quarter.The Pelicans coaches deserve credit for recognizing the matchups — and
    the strengths and weaknesses of the players on their roster – by assigning
    Cunningham to defend LeBron; I will note, however, this may have just been an
    in-game realization by the coaches (not one that was planned ahead of time),
    because of the fact that they actually started Alonzo Gee over Dante.
    Exhibit B:Giving
    Omer Asik more playing time.Asik is
    under a contract that will likely ensure he will be a Pelican for a while.So the coaches might as well figure out how
    to get the most out of him.They did
    that last night, leading to Omer’s best game of the season.
    Exhibit C:Situational
    Substitutions.Toward the end of last
    night’s game, during the usual free throw fest that we often see as the clock ticks
    down in the 4th quarter of NBA games, we saw Asik subbing for Ryan
    Anderson to play defense and Ryno subbing for Asik to play offense.Though it doesn’t show up in the box score,
    Asik’s defense clearly had an effect in the paint – he was disrupting drives to
    the basket by the Cavs.But obviously
    Omer is a liability on offense.So these
    substitutions – though they may have had minimal impact on the outcome of the
    game – demonstrated thoughtful coaching.Another key substitution was on Jrue Holiday’s game tying 3
    pointer.Right before the inbounds pass,
    the coaches substituted Eric Gordon for Dante Cunningham.The Cavs knew the Pels would be taking a 3
    point shot, because there were only 12 seconds left and New Orleans had no more
    time outs.It was helpful to have another
    serious 3 point shooting threat on the court that Cleveland had to pay
    attention to.So it was smart to sub
    Gordon for Dante on that play.Good
    Exhibit D:Playing
    Jrue Holiday off the bench.It’s not
    clear whether Holiday is 100% healthy, but it is clear that Jrue’s in and out,
    spotty minutes — necessitated by his minutes restriction — weren’t enabling him to get into a flow and weren’t helping him
    contribute the way he can.Bringing Holiday
    off the bench in a way that allowed him to play his limited minutes in larger blocks was good coaching.
    Exhibit E:Shortening
    the game roster.Toney Douglas, Alexis
    Ajinca and Ish Smith were all “DNP – Coach’s decision.”I love me some Ish as much as any Pelicans
    fan, but it was good coaching to shorten the roster last night.
    Alvin Gentry and his staff deserve much of the criticism
    they’ve received during the Pelican’s 1st 19 games of this
    season.But they now deserve some credit
    for beginning to make good coaching decisions, especially the decisions they
    made last night that contributed to a quality win.Better late than never.Let’s hope this is the beginning of a positive
    trend that continues.

  3. AnotherStatsGuy

    December 5, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Actually, I’d like to see the Pelicans use Ish and Ajinca, if only to keep every player familiar with each other. The last thing I’d want is to for the injuries to strike again, and suddenly the Pelicans have to trot out a 5 guy combination that has never played together before. There are times when New Orleans’ offense stalls, and those two guys tend to be ‘instant offense’.

  4. Ben.M

    December 6, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Super late on this (just watched the game on replay):
    Omer!!!! Welcome back!! Didn’t play for the foul and it worked… I actually thought Omer was the real reason Lebrons shots were changed, not taking anything away from Dante who is clearly the better SF player than Gee in this game (who looked lost).
    Jrue, looked so more comfortable in the 2nd unit… he made the comment in the post-game interview that he felt more comfortable playing with  the same unit he did in the playoffs last year… He needs confidence and to find his game so I totally love the idea of him staring in the 2nd unit.
    Gordon: was the hot hand, then we just stopped going to him? Wierd. Also, he needs to pay attention in the huddles and know he’s a starter… ESPN commentators picked him on it.
    AD… how good is he, loved how he was interacting with the crowd too.
    Gentry: Rotations were the best we’ve seen this season (had the players for the 1st time). I really like him as a coach, really excited to see how he manages this team with Qunicy (good SF) in the mix.

    Debbie Downers: I think I saw a comment on FB or twitter saying I hope that 3pt shot from Jrue didn’t cost us my boy (Australian) Ben Simmons… Seriously? wow. This team is not a bottom 4 team in the east+west, so it was never, never going to happen. Our bad start + New year schedule always meant an 8th seed or a lottery.
    Best game of the year.

  5. Ben.M

    December 6, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Just saw were I saw that last comment about Ben Simmons, I’d like to retract that comment as I took it out of context.

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