Pelicans’ 3rd Quarter Breakdown Against The Wizards Is a Familiar Story

All ball movement stopped and defensive break downs ran wild. Davis couldn’t get the ball and no one knew what to do when he couldn’t. And when the offense wasn’t flowing like it should, Alvin Gentry finally decided made a change: he just benched the guards.

After a very lackluster first half that ended with the Pels down only 3, Alvin Gentry chose Toney Douglas to start the 2nd half in place of Norris Cole, alongside Bryce Dejean-Jones, Dante Cunningham, Davis, and Alexis Ajinca. Why he made the change is pretty clear: in his <10 first-half minutes, Cole shot 2 of 7 and was a -11. However, this change did not affect the game in the way he wanted. In almost 5 minutes to start the 2nd half, the Pelicans went from down 3 to down 17. During the initial Wizards 8-0 run, the Pels had a turnover and two airballs on possessions with no passes. Gentry replaced Douglas with Holiday, and BDJ with Anderson, giving the Pels a lineup of Holiday, Cunningham, Anderson, Davis, and Perkins. 1 guard and 4 bigs. If the guards aren’t going to help the offense flow maybe someone else will.

Something that has become pretty obvious to me is there is no change to make that will make the offense run smoother that doesn’t involve playing Holiday 40 minutes a night (he’s already averaging 32 in his last 5). Putting him in the starting lineup does nothing but take away his ability to change the game from the bench. Would you rather a good start followed by a collapse you can’t do anything about, or a bad start that you can change? At some point (and for a good stretch of minutes) Cole and/or Douglas is going to be running things. Gentry apparently likes the bench to be able to make a positive change, but either way the main issue is that without Holiday there is nothing there.

These are the games that depress Pelicans fans because there is no one on the active roster who can help fix the issues. But with the season the way it is, there are things we can take from the Pelicans struggles other than just the lack of talent.

The first couple buckets in that 2nd half were a wide-open Dudley 3, an uncontested dunk from Gortat, and another wide-open Dudley 3. Gentry called a timeout after each Dudley basket but it made no difference, the Pels continued to give him too much space. He got free in transition to nail another three, making it an 11-0 run. The very next play, again no one grabbed Dudley coming down the court. He missed, but the one Wizard inside the 3pt line got the offensive board, and Wall got an open 3. Now a 14-0 run to start the half. Oh and the next Wizards’ play is an open Dudley 3 (missed).

To be very clear Dudley was Davis’ man, and that Gortat uncontested dunk came on a play where Davis and Ajinca got burned on a Dudley/Gortat PnR. Dudley was the main reason the Wizards got their big lead, and he did it by attacking his matchup with Davis. Now Dudley isn’t your typical big, he’s really a wing player, but 2 timeouts should be enough to adjust and it didn’t happen. This game should serve as a reminder that Davis isn’t an infallible defender. It might not have been completely his fault that Dudley got open from behind the line, but there was not any communication or accountability, the very things that changed last season in the Pelicans’ playoff push. Tonight isn’t the best matchup for a bounce back (OKC will be massive favorites), but if we are just looking for improvements from Davis, that should be accomplishable.

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