Pelicans’ Offense Gives Entire Win to Half of the Mavericks

Published: January 6, 2016

The New Orleans Pelicans fell to 11-23 as they lost to a (I hate the) Dallas Mavericks (21-15) squad that was resting 4 starters and is average when full strength, 100-91.

The following is from the pregame post:

So, with all the Dallas players resting, they leave salary, experience, and talent on the bench. They gain some some surprise and hunger. However, Dallas should be a below average team with their available players, and the Pelicans have a chance to win handily. If they do, nothing to be excited about. If they do not, ask yourself, “Why?” Remember the most recent game against Dallas when you ask.

Let’s follow this advice and ask, “Why?” While others just see the problem has too hard and just want to “blow it up,” which is a particular empty statement since we don’t really know what “it” is when they say it, or they just dress up their pouting in vocabulary and numbers, I’ll choose to actually look at the game.

The offense was atrocious. The game started off ok. Gentry used some timeouts early when he saw some early issues on defense, but the Pelicans were able to maintain a lead for stretches, never went down by more than 1 in the first half, ending the half up 1. Still, the seeds of disaster were there, and it was clear if you looked hard enough. Davis scored 12 in the first quarter; he went on to score 14 more. The Pelicans had 10 points of transition offense compared to Dallas’ 2. This also inflated the appearance of efficiency of the offense. While the offense contributes certainly to points on the break, the defense also plays a role, particularly tonight. Up to this point, the Pelicans were at least trying to play their game, but their shots were not falling. A little patience may have been all that was needed.

We’ll never know.

In the second half, it all fell apart. They pumped the three and missed them spectacularly, going 7 of 30 overall in the game. They turned the ball over 10 times. The team rebounded well, but shooting at just 37% overall (worse in the second half, and this was inflated due to some late shots), so the value of those rebounds was discounted. There was very little effort to get to the rim, where the team was having more success. At one point, Gentry put in Asik and Gee, and it had a mild effect. It was probably too little too late, but a late possession nearly got the Pelicans to within 5 with time to make a game of it, but it was not meant to be. Still, the coaching staff was at least trying something when plans A, B, and C were on fire and under water. The need to try something is partially on them, however, so it’s not exactly high praise.

The aggregate stat line of this fraction of the Mavericks and that of the Pelicans is nearly identical aside from the shots falling, but even if the Pelicans won, that means they ended up playing about like the bench of an average team . . . when they have Anthony Davis.

That is completely unacceptable.

Anthony Davis scored no points in the third quarter. Also of note, Tyreke Evans had no assists in that quarter after logging 4 in the first half; he went on to get credit for one more in the second half. Evans had 3 shot attempts in the first half but 9 in the second.

It can’t all be put on Evans, however, because I am most certainly attributing the air being let out of the team . . . again . . . on his shoulders, but the non-Davis guys have got to perform. Evans, of course, was efficient with 16 points on 12 shots. Gordon, who only got 23 minutes compared to Evans’ 25 and Davis’ 42, had 14 points on 9 shots. Davis was next best with 26 points on 25 shots. Each of the other players had points per shot no greater than 1 . . . 35 points on 46 shots in 140 player minutes for the 7 other guys compared to 56 points on 46 shots in 100 minutes for Davis, Gordon, Evans.

It’s unacceptable for none of the other 7 guys to play so poorly, it’s unacceptable for Davis to check out, and it’s unacceptable for Davis not to get the support he needs.

This team has a fundamental problem with “fundamentals,” and they have a leadership problem. It’s not about teaching or the system or any of that. You can’t measure any of that if they guys aren’t playing. You can try to pin that on the coaches, but there is only so much a coach can do. Remember when the Spurs cut Stephen Jackson right before the playoffs? If Pop can’t reach a player, some players can’t be reached, so stifle the tired “it’s the coach’s job” line and accept that not everything is under the control of the staff.

  • Davis needs to take the leadership on this team, which he has not done effectively
  • The rotation has to change even if Pondexter and Holiday are not ready to be back without limitations, with Evans resuming his role off the bench while Gordon is on this team, and he needs to be at best the secondary ball handler. If not, trade him.
  • The team needs to add to its coaching staff now, as I’ve said for years; there is simply too much to do in too short a time, so you need to spend some money and get some extra guys in there . . . now
  • No amount of tanking or top draft picks or playoff appearances is going to fix these foundational problems. It’s up to Gentry and Davis and fix this, at least until Dell can find an acceptably risky trade or a sneaky signing that I don’t believe exists.

    From Gentry:

    I don’t really know, to be honest with you. I wish I had answers. I don’t have answers, but we’re going to come up with answers. It’s not fair to the fans. It’s not fair to anybody for us to come out and have that kind of effort. It really isn’t. And when I say ‘us’ I mean all of us: coaches, players, everybody. It’s just not good. I’m really disappointed in the way we approached the game. We tried time and time again to say that it doesn’t matter who is playing and who is not playing. Usually in these kinds of situations, guys try to step it up anyway because they are trying to earn extra minutes. And we didn’t react. I wish I knew, but I don’t.

    I guess the thing that is even more alarming is that the fact the last two days we had great practices with great energy, great execution and competitiveness and play against an opponent and we don’t have it. I don’t know what the answer is, but we are going to find out.

    From Gordon:

    We’ve been struggling and at the end of the day, you have to hold guys accountable. At the end of the day, you have to hold guys accountable. Everybody is struggling, but we just have to hold our guys accountable more, if anything.

    The Pelicans host the Indiana Pacers Friday at 7 pm CT (UTC -6). It can be seen on Fox Sports New Orleans and heard on the Pelicans Radio Network, 99.5 FM locally.


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