New Orleans Pelicans information, analysis and discussion Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:35:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pelicans lose big to the Trail Blazers Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:35:59 +0000 Tonight nothing seemed to work. The Pelicans strength has been their offense and a lot of that is due to Anthony Davis’ stellar play. For proceedings this evening Davis was struggling. The Blazers did an excellent job defensively forcing him into tough shots and making sure that when he missed they pushed the ball up the court.

Not only did the Blazers do a masterful job defensively, they put the ball into Aldridge’s hands who outplayed his counterpart in every conceivable way. Most of his work came off pick and roll/pop rubs where Davis would hedge. This would create enough room for LaMarcus to get to the basket or take a good mid-range look.

Things didn’t get much better after the first half. It was more of the same. Jagged offense was complemented by defense that was out of sorts and unsure of how to limit their opponents. Damian Lillard hit a long three at 5:56 in the third to put Portland up 29 and things were pretty much done.


  • There was a telling period early in the first quarter. The Blazers missed a layup and the ball bounced of the rim towards several Pelican potential rebounders. Instead of being able to pull the ball in, it ricocheted off several hands then into the grasp of a Portland Trail Blazer. Another miss, another offensive rebound and then another before a mid-range jumper was splashed in. It seemed that since that sequence the Pelicans just couldn’t get into things. When easy look opportunities were missed it seemed to manifest itself more as time went on.
  • Give credit to Portland. They were 4-1 on back to backs tonight, but coming off a triple overtime win. From the very beginning they were moving the ball, cutting and playing with energy on defesne. They are a better team and their record conveys that.
  • I must have a bit of a diatribe about the Pelicans defense. For most of the season we’ve known of their struggles on that side of the court. It’s not so much what goes wrong as that they haven’t found a way to do things well. There isn’t really an aspect of the defense that excels outside of Anthony Davis blocked shots and the occasional steal (rank 19th in the league). The pick and roll is where much of the problems starts and end. The players seem unsure of how to defend this. The big man will do one thing with the guard playing it another way. Both might go with the ball and leave the big man wide open for a jumper. Sometimes the guard gets stuck behind the pick and the big man stays on his man giving the ball handler an easy lane to the basket. I don’t know how this aspect of the game improves; I’m not a professional basketball coach. What I can say is that the team is young and has played very little together. But, I am still concerned that progress has yet to be made defensively and any qualifier used prior to criticism doesn’t alleviate concerns for this season.
  • Austin Rivers had a pretty solid game this evening. 21 points on just 9 shots (56% from the field), 11-12 from free-throw land, 3 assists, 0 turnovers. He was in control for much of the game but the reason he had a good one was two things: one, he was hitting tough layup shots and two he hit his free-throws. I really hope that Rivers continues to put out performances like this. What would help is if he could hit some more threes. It would added a second dimension to his game which he sorely needs if he isn’t hitting his layups or getting to the line.
  • Ryan Anderson was doing work on offense but he’s a big part of the defensive struggles. Chris Kaman pretty much bullied him for post-position and when matched up against the athletic Thomas Robinson he was beat for easy dunks. How the Pelicans develop on defense will depend a lot on how Ryan figures out how to improve. It seems that teams are quietly figuring out that running sets through the man who Anderson is guarding is working more often than not.

I would advise fans not to over-react too much to tonight’s game. The Pelicans were playing very good basketball prior to this. They beat a good Rockets team as well as a very competent Cleveland outfit. Tonight was an extension of the Pelicans issues. They’re a bad defensive team and are far too reliant on their 2-man offensive game-plan. They weren’t passing the ball and sort of imploded in on themselves. It doesn’t mean this is a sign of things to come though. We’ve been here before. In fact, we’ve been in an almost exact opposite situation when the Pelicans completely destroyed the Minnesota Timberwolves.

To clarify this further it also means that the issues displayed tonight are not glossed over. This is a young team that needs time to develop. We mentioned in today’s pre-game post that the top lineup has played just over 140 minutes together. Portland’s top lineup has played over 450 minutes together.

Tomorrow the Pelicans take on the Oklahoma City Thunder who will be without Kevin Durant.

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Game on: Blazers @ Pelicans Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:24:29 +0000 If you missed the game last night between the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers you missed an absolute barn burner. Triple Overtime and Damian Lillard taking over to settle matters in the final extra period. Every time the Blazers looked down and out Lillard would some how keep his team in the game.

Meanwhile the Pelicans have had a mini resurgence of late moving into the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Anthony Davis has been his usual self but Jrue Holiday has been exemplary for New Orleans having, as Nick Lewellen puts it, “his best season of his career.”  The Pelicans offense operates a lot more smoothly with him on the court. They post a 114 ORtg and eFG% of 52% when he’s on the court and a 102 ORtg and an eFG% of 46% when he’s off.

The last time these two teams met New Orleans seemingly had the game in their hands. The third quarter they were moving the ball, flowing well on defense and overall just looked like the better team. In the final period all of that stopped. They started playing street ball, not passing and switched off defensively.

Team Breakdown:


Keys to the game:

  • Stopping Damian Lillard is difficult for any team. If there’s any discernible difference this year it’s that he’s posting a very strong defensive rating (102) compared to his career average (110). Last night he had 43 points and hit 4-9 three’s. The battle between he and Anthony Davis will always be a hot topic for discussion. He was all the rage in his rookie season, but now Davis has captured the media’s love (with George Karl recently saying he’d rather Davis than Lebron). It’s important to remember that these guys are both talented players. This could be the start of an amazing rivalry in the Western Conference
  • How’s this for comparisons sake: The Blazers top lineup has played 423 minutes together. The next top lineup has played 52 minutes together. The Pelicans’ top lineups are as follows: 144 minutes, 95, 81 and 42. Monty still hasn’t found a lineup he likes, while Portland have a group of guys who all have played significant time together. A lot of the guys keep talking about being patient with this young team and this highlights this further.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge has as a career average of 18 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists when he plays against a New Orleans team. But doesn’t it seem like more than that? Containing LaMarcus can be doable, especially with Anthony Davis on him. He almost always pops when setting a pick and will go to his fadeaway on the baseline after establishing post position.
  • Robin Lopez is out injured and that’s huge for Portland. As discussed earlier about the lineups, Lopez was in the Blazers top one. Terry Stotts is going to need to do a little bit more experimenting with who replaces him. Chris Kaman seems to be the next best thing, but don’t rule out Meyers Leonard or Thomas Robinson
  • Tyreke Evans will play tonight after sitting against Houston. This is huge, but I would like him to be 100 per cent healthy. The Pels will need him as the season goes along.

Also to note the first 8,000 fans through the gates will receive a Pelicans ornament courtesy of the People’s Health. The game will feature lots of holiday elements where you can get photos with Santa as well as interact with a bunch of different stations for kids of all ages.

Benny Grunch & the Bunch featuring Kathy Savoie will be the featured halftime act – so there’s that to look forward to as well!

Make sure to follow us on Twitter for the game day commentary and discussion. This one is going to be good – Go Pels!

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Don’t Forget about Jrue Sat, 20 Dec 2014 18:11:02 +0000 Jrue Holiday is having the best season of his career. Yes, he is playing better than when he was an eastern conference all-star in 2012-13. In fact, I don’t think it is even close. Despite having a career best year, there are still some fans who aren’t crazy about Holiday. I am not one of them. He is easily my favorite player on this team not named Anthony Davis. Let’s take a look at how good he has been this year.

  • There are 8 guards this year averaging 15 or more points and 7 or more assists. The ones not named Jrue Holiday are Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Kyle Lowery, Jeff Teauge, John Wall, Ty Lawson, and Michael Carter-Williams. That’s pretty good company.
  • Holiday is posting career bests in PER (19.1), true shooting percentage (.528), WS/48 (.124), and turnover percentage (11.9). Those are just the advanced stats. His field goal percentage and his free throw percentage have also never been higher.
  • When Jrue is on the court, the Pelicans offensive rating goes up 11.4 points. The team’s total rebounding percentage, assist percentage, block percentage, steal percentage, and turnover percentage also improve. In short, this team is better when he is on the floor than when he is on the bench.
  • Let’s talk turnovers for a second. That was always the knock on Holiday. He was a good player, but he turned the ball over way too much. When I praise Holiday on twitter, it is almost guaranteed that I will get a comment about his turnover “problem”. His turnovers have gotten a bit worse as the team has instituted more ball movement on offense over the last month. Fine. But he is only averaging 2.0 turnovers per game this season. In case you were wondering, that is tied for the lowest turnover mark in that set of point guards we mentioned in the first bullet point. Chris Paul is actually the other point guard averaging only 2 per game. We’ll talk more about him later.
  • Talking defense is tricky. The problem is with our data. Statistics don’t provide a lot of help when assessing a player’s ability on defense. The best way to measure a player’s ability on defense is to watch the games. If you have been watching, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen what a beast Jrue can be on the defensive end. He has great footwork, and his length makes it difficult for even the most explosive point guards to get around him. He also plays with a ton of heart. Holiday is not afraid of stepping in front of the biggest guys in the league. You don’t have to like his game, but you have to respect his passion.
  • Measuring defense may be hard, but the NBA is trying to change that with their new tracking data. I’m not totally sure how helpful the new data is, but here is what it says about Jrue. A shooter going against Jrue will shoot 1.2% worse than his typical field goal percentage. If we break it down by zone, we see that Jrue is a defensive juggernaut inside. He drops guys shooting percentage by over 7% inside of 10 feet from the rim. That’s impressive. He does struggle to defend outside shooters, though. However, I’m not sure how much of that is Jrue’s inabilities or just a product of the entire team’s weaknesses. Frankly, I tend to lean towards the latter.
  • Do  you know how old Jrue is? He is 24. In fact, he just turned 24. If we go back to our 15 and 7 group of point guards, we will see that Jrue is tied for the second youngest in that group. MCW is the youngest at 23. Don’t forget how young Jrue is and how much room there is for him to grow.
  • Do you know how many games Jrue has played as a Pelican? 59. That’s right. He has only played 59 games as a Pelican. That’s less than 75% of one typical regular season. It is obvious why that number is so low. He was hurt for most of last year. But, why don’t we bring that up more often? Holiday has spent less than a full season on the court with this team. Doesn’t that suggest that he is still learning our system? Or that the chemistry he has with his teammates is still forming? Jrue has been better in December than he was in November. Part of me thinks that the added time on the floor has been a big factor in that improvement. All I’m trying to say is that all signs say he is going to continue to get better.

Let me say a couple of things before wrapping this up. If you want to talk about Jrue, it feels like the discussion ultimately goes back to the trade we made to acquire him. I’m not going to talk about that here, except to make the following comments. I’m tired of talking about that trade. It is over. At this point, it is a sunk and realized cost. Now, I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I think it was a good trade, but it doesn’t matter. There will be people who disagree with me on that no matter what. Let’s just talk about what Jrue is actually doing on the floor.

The other thing I want to address is the negativity about Jrue from some fans. Some people have gone as far as to suggest that he should be benched. Honestly, I didn’t understand where this was coming from, until another Pelicans fan said this to me, “I guess you’re right. Jrue is good, but I’m just used to Chris Paul. I want a Chris Paul type player next to Anthony Davis.” Hmm…

First, there are no Chris Paul type players. There is just a single Chris Paul. Second, not many teams can combine that much talent with two players. If you think there are a lot of teams with that much talent between two players, then I think you are underrating either Paul or Davis. At any rate, Jrue doesn’t need to be Chris for the Pelicans to be successful. Jrue can be himself, and that can help make the Pelicans a winning team. If you don’t believe me, go back and look at those numbers.

My point is simple. Jrue Holiday is great, and he is good for this team. He has shown that he has the potential to be the 3rd, possibly even 2nd, best player on a championship team. It doesn’t matter who he isn’t. What matters is that he is an exceptional player on both ends of the floor, and we can build a team around him and Davis. Jrue and his game are quiet. They can get lost in the shuffle. Regardless, we need to take a minute an appreciate the fact that we are watching a young talented player come into his own. I don’t know about you, but watching Jrue play the best basketball of his career has made this season really fun for me. Let’s just stop and enjoy it.

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New Orleans Pelicans Recall Russ Smith from D-League Sat, 20 Dec 2014 17:13:13 +0000 Per the New Orleans Pelicans:

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has recalled rookie point guard Russ Smith from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League.

In his recent assignment, the second of the season, Smith, 6-0, 185, appeared in four games for Fort Wayne, averaging 17.5 points, and 7.8 assists. Overall, Smith has appeared in six games with Fort Wayne, averaging 16.5 points, 6.2 assists and 1.8 steals.

Smith has appeared in three games for New Orleans, averaging 0.3 rebounds per game. Smith appeared in six preseason contests for the Pelicans, averaging 5.0 points, 1.2 assists and 0.8 rebounds.

Drafted out of the University of Louisville by Philadelphia with the 47th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, Smith was acquired by New Orleans in a draft night trade.

Smith will be in New Orleans and available for tonight’s home game against Portland.

The last time Smith was recalled, it was due to the Mad Ants having time without games.

The Mad Ants play tonight, but not again until the 27th. The Pelicans have 4 games in that span: Trail Blazers (New Orleans), Thunder (Oklahoma City), Pacers (Indianapolis), Spurs (New Orleans). The team also just released point guard Gal Mekel (and this move does not affect the roster spot . . . Smith’s spot is held, just with him as inactive for the games when he is assigned to the D-League). With Evans potentially playing, but potentially not, a little insurance is a fine thing.

Smith should also get some work with the team while he’s in town.

Welcome back, Russ.

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Notes from the Underground: New Orleans Pelicans Practice 12.19 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:14:51 +0000 After last night’s 99-90 road victory against the Houston Rockets, the New Orleans Pelicans had a short practice in preparation of tomorrow night’s home game against the Portland Trailblazers. Since last night, Tyreke Evans has had a MRI that’s revealed he has a bone bruise. Evans was seen taking jumpshots after practice.

Monty Williams on a statement road win:

“We’re exciting about winning a big game on the road. But that’s over with. We talked about that today. We focused on the style of play. We’re trying to create some consistency there. When you win games, it’s a natural occurrence to be excited. At the same time the NBA doesn’t allow you to hold on to that cause you got to get ready for the next one.”

On Tyreke:

“He feels a little bit better, but we don’t want to jump the gun in this situation, so we’re just going to list him as day-to-day.”

On winning last night without Evans:

“Guys just made plays. Dante was playing some [shooting guard] last night. He doesn’t play that. Austin was out there playing the [point guard] the majority of the game. I had all kinds of guys in different spots. So I think it was more of our guys just doing what it takes to win the game, not so much my planning. Our guys just stepped up when they needed to.”

On the ball sticking with guys on offense at times:

“It’s just a natural occurrence. Guys just have a lot of confidence in their own ability. What we’re trying to create a synergy of that and doing what it takes to do what’s best for the team. It’s not always a bad thing. We have guys that are pretty good on their own. But what we’re trying to do is mesh the two. So that we have what San Antonio has, they have the best balance of anyone. Of sharing the ball, but they have guys that have the ability to do it on their own.”

On Mekel’s release:

“We wanted to take a look at him. We thought he did a good job…We like him, a lot. And it doesn’t mean that we won’t bring him back. But at this point we felt like we’re going to go in a different direction. We thought he brought some really good stuff to the team. Kinda stirred the pot a little bit; even though we didn’t do that on purpose. Our guys have the understanding that we’re going to continue to tweak the roster to make our team better.”

On the comfort in the roster:

“I’m never comfortable [laughs]. I feel better about where we’re going, and the style. Doesn’t mean that we’re not in the lab, trying to look at options for our team to get better.”

Tyreke Evans on his injury:

“A little sore still. Take it one day at a time. I see the doctor after this; see if I can go tomorrow or when’s the next time I can go.”

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On the Fly, Episode 7: We Hung Out With Eric Gordon Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:35:54 +0000 Wow, these Bourbon Street Shots guys are really cool

We know Eric, we know.

So Eric Gordon decided to join our watch party at Tracey’s last night.  He sat down across from us for 2 hours and answered questions about everything ranging from the Clippers trade to this year’s team to the antics of Chris Kaman.  He was straightforward and insightful and his predictions were spot on.

If you’re out there reading this, Eric, know that the gesture was very much appreciated.  Get healthy and we look forward to having you back on the court.

Some other tidbits:

  • Gordon said Bradley Beal is one of the toughest covers in the NBA
  • Gordon mentioned that the Pelicans need to do a better job of chasing Klay Thompson and Steph Curry off of the 3 point line
  • We talked about the Clippers trade, and Gordon said that finding out you’re traded from agents or friends/family is just the nature of the NBA.
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Pelicans Waive Guard Gal Mekel Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:55:10 +0000 The Pelicans announced today that they have decided to waive Gal Mekel. Here is a press release from the team:

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has waived point guard Gal Mekel.

Mekel, 6-3, 191, was signed by the team on December 5 as an unrestricted free agent. Mekel appeared in four games with New Orleans, averaging 1.5 points and 3.3 assists.

The Wichita State product appeared in 31 games during the 2013-14 season for the Dallas Mavericks and appeared in all eight of Dallas’ 2014 preseason games.

New Orleans’ roster now stands at 14.

Mekel appeared in only 4 games for the Pelicans and logged just 43 minutes. During that time, Mekel did struggle as a scorer. He shot only 15 percent from the field and never got to the free throw line. On the other hand, Mekel excelled as a distributor averaging 10.9 assists per 36 minutes.

After announcing Mekel’s release, writer David Pick tweeted the following:

Hearing that New Orleans have released point guard Gal Mekel. Pelicans hopeful the Israeli floor general clears waivers.

That second sentence is a bit interesting. For those of you who don’t know, when a player is waive he stays “on waivers” for the next 48 hours. During that time, another team can claim the player and take on his contract. If no team claims the player, he “clears waivers” and is free to sign anywhere as a free agent. If two teams claim a player on waivers, he goes to the team with the worst record. Also, as soon as a player is waived, his roster spot is open. We don’t have to wait for Mekel to clear waivers to immediately sign or trade for a player to take that open spot.

The Pelicans financial situation won’t change if Mekel is claimed off waivers or clears waivers. So why is the team hoping that he clears waivers? Well, one explanation is that the Pelicans could make a trade that brings in one more player than they send out. In this case, that extra player in the trade would take Mekel’s recently vacated spot.

Now, let’s say the Pelicans don’t want to hold on to that new guy they just received in the trade. In other words, they like Mekel more than the new player, but they needed the extra player to make the trade work. Then, they could waive the new guy and bring back Mekel into his old spot. I know it seems silly and confusing, but these are the rigid rules of the NBA CBA. Also, we should note that these types of moves won’t affect a team’s salary cap.

The Pelicans have done this type of thing before. Lance Thomas was actually waived twice by the Pelicans and was brought back both times. Once he was signed to a 10 day contract after being waived, and the other time he signed a deal for the rest of the season. The point is this type of thing happens.

At any rate, the real question is what, if anything, happens next. The Pelicans have already made a couple of in season moves to improve their roster. This may be the first domino in another series of moves to improve the bench or find a missing piece for a playoff push. The free roster spot could also be used in the trade, or nothing could happen. Frankly, we are not sure what this move means… yet.

When we do find something out, Bourbon Street Shots will be here to break it down for you. Stay tuned. This could get interesting (or stay boring). 

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Pelicans take Rockets Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:26:56 +0000 The folks at Tracey’s obviously had a blast as the Pelicans snatched a win in Houston against a team that had been playing at a very high level.  Yes, the Rockets had played an OT game the night before in Denver, but these wins matter in a tough Western Conference.  The Pelicans fought hard through a pretty impressively tough Houston Defense and found enough defense of their own to slow down the Rockets Dynamic Duo of Harden and Howard, who combined to score 38 points on 38 shots.


  • I’ll be honest, my biggest question was whether Holiday was going to be picked clean a bunch of times tonight by Beverley, who tends to give him fits.  Though Holiday was pressured into some turnovers, he handled Beverly’s intense defense pretty well – even turning it against him for a huge play in the fourth.  Holiday used to be one of the higher turnover point guards in the league.  This season, he’s been a great lead guard.  It’s almost like he’s young and developing!
  • Trevor Ariza was given the job of tracking Ryan Anderson all night, and he did a phenomenal job keeping Anderson from getting free on the perimeter.  The Pelicans countered by running double big pick and rolls with Anderson and Davis – and the Rockets would frequently switch, leaving an inferior defensive forward on Anderson.  Good counter.
  • Austin Rivers stat line isn’t good, but his +21 is accurate to his impact.  He fought Harden all night, and Harden clearly opened the game feeling like he could abuse the young fella.  He didn’t, and though Austin picked up a bunch of fouls and a technical, he gave Harden a hard time while he was in and that’s all you can ask.
  • Dante Cunningham was perfect for this type of game.  The Rockets only have one real bruiser in Howard, and the rest of their forwards are tweener rebound-only types or offense only types.  That made Cunningham a good choice to chase around and outhustle players like Ariza, Papanikolau and Montiejuaesroinjadsfohhas.  And his midrange shot was falling, including a corner three.  If he can take that step back more often, he becomes even more of a solid asset to this team.
  • Davis had a 30-14-3-2-5 game with 1 turnover and zero fouls.  Oh, and he only took 17 shots for those 30 points.
  • Eric Gordon was at Traceys for the Watch Party.  Were you there?
  • Babbitt hit his shots.  Not sure why the Rockets thought it was a good idea to let him take wide open corner threes.  Weird.
  • In the third, the Rockets defense became really suffocating.  The Pelicans, without Evans brand of chaos, really struggled to get penetration on their pick and rolls and ended up taking a lot bad shots in the face of aggressive double teams.  It almost turned the game around until the Pels forced a string of turnovers and capitalized on them in the fourth.

Next game is Saturday against Portland!

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Game On: Pelicans @ Rockets Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:53:13 +0000 There have been buckets of ink spilled about the Sexy Golden State Warriors this season.  Memphis has gotten actual notice from the national media for it’s amazing play. (mostly because they did bad things to the Sexy Golden State Warriors) However, toiling along behind them, mostly ignored, are the 19-5 Houston Rockets.  19-5 despite missing Dwight Howard for 10 games.

It’s a damn good team the Pelicans are facing tonight, people, and I’d bet almost every one of you would guess completely wrongly if I asked you how they did it.  They have the Beard, right?  All offense, no defense James Harden?  It must be his efficient offense that is propelling them!

Wrong.  The Rockets sport only the 20th most efficient offense . . . and the 2nd most efficient defense.  Higher than Chicago.  Higher than Memphis.  Only the Sexy Golden State Warriors have locked down opposing teams better.

Tonight will be a dog fight, my friends.  If you want to hear more about the Rockets, listen to On the Fly.  Really!  I insist!

Keys to the Game:

  • Eat offensive glass.  This is a must.  The Rockets contest shots like crazy and force turnovers at a very high rate.  Their only defensive weakness – and it’s much less dramatic now that Howard is back – is a weakness on the defensive boards.  They have the 7th worst defensive rebound rate.  Asik, Anderson and Davis will need to be generating offensive boards at their best rate for easy shots tonight.
  • Mark guys in transition and GET ON THEM.  Harden is like Tyreke in transition, forcing the issue whenever he can, and the rest of the Rockets wing players work hard to get transition buckets.  The Rockets are 8th in pace, and the Pelicans can be a disaster in transition.  If they don’t show some discipline getting back and finding a man, this could be painful.
  • Beg Ariza to shoot.  He started the season at a torrid pace, but he’s fallen off terribly and is now at 34% on 8 threes a game.  If there is a way to get Ariza shooting rather than Howard and Harden, the Pelicans need to do that.

Enjoy the game!  There’s a watch party tonight to at Tracy’s.  Be there!

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On the Fly, Episode 6: Rockets Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:51:14 +0000  



Jake and I decided to do some recapping of the Cleveland, Golden State, and Utah games, and we follow with some quick analysis of the Rockets.  I forget that LeBron was shut down because teams ignored his teammates and have some other brain farts resulting from sleep deprivation.. but we do not go gentle into that good night.. whatever that means.

Also, don’t forget about our watch party at Tracey’s tomorrow! Details are here.

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Pelicans storm back on Jazz Wed, 17 Dec 2014 04:46:19 +0000 I felt like someone had kicked me in the gut with 11 minutes to go in the game and the Pelicans down 14 to the Jazz.  Up to that point, it had all the hallmarks of a trap game gone wrong,  The Pelicans were playing sloppy and had 7(!) turnovers in the first quarter and 11 in the half, nearly matching their average number for a whole game.  Every 50-50 ball was going to the Jazz as the Pelicans were out-hustled.  A Random bad shooter started going off. (Trey Burke is shooting 36.5% from the field this year)

And then the Pelicans ran like crazy, made defensive plays like crazy, the crowd went crazy and the Pelicans had 4 empty possessions the rest of the game.  Final 119-112.

Ahhh.  What a relief.


  • I’m declaring Evans’ struggles at the rim to be over.  Last year he sucked at the start of the year, getting into shape, fighting through a lingering training camp injury.  This season it’s the same thing.  He had problems in training camp and struggled to round into form.  Dude is now the sickest kind of bowling ball headed to the rim.
  • The Jazz broadcast team – who were killing the Pelicans’ guards through three and a half quarters – just couldn’t keep it up with Tyreke.  On that sick play when Tyreke went behind his back to dodge a blitzing Exum, and then shouldered Exum all the way from halfcourt to the basket for the hoop and harm, one of them just let out a rueful little laugh and a “Tyreke is amazing in the open floor.”  Agreed.
  • Holiday started the game on Alec Burks – who clearly the Pelicans considered more dangerous.  Trey Burke went 5-5 on Tyreke and Jimmer for 15 points in the first quarter.  Holiday switched to Burke and the former Michigan star ended the game with 16 points.
  • Jrue is a little bit of a foul machine, but I don’t care at all.  He is a competitive psycho defensively and he’ll put his body in front of anybody, no matter how big.  At one point in the fourth Enes Kanter was rumbling full speed at the basket after slipping a pick and roll and Holiday flew in from the side, leapt in the air and got tossed six feet as Kanter barrels into him.  But he stopped the dunk and Kanter missed a free throw!  Love it.
  • Kanter was an interesting case tonight.  In the pick and roll he was brutal to stop.  Great at getting to the rim and even better at cleaning up misses from the ballhandler as he earned 6 offensive rebounds.  However, he unleashed a pack of awesome moves on iso post attacks and . . . they produced 2 points on 8 shots.  I don’t know if his touch is better normally, but he could have been a MONSTER, not just a handful.
  • Speaking of monsters, AD with 31 points on 15 shots.   Damn.  I’m just stopping there before I have an efficiencygasm and have to cuddle the boxscore.
  • Anderson is a shooter.  Shooters are streaky.  He followed 2-15 with 10-15 and six threes.  God I love it when he’s on.  He’s the only reason the Pelicans stayed in reach through the first half.
  • Rivers had a solid game – and Monty gave him extended play in the fourth in a three-guard lineup with Evans and Holiday.  Despite giving up some serious size, his defense on Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward was better than what Dante was doing.  Dante played hard, but didn’t have the foot speed to chase those two.
  • Withey and Jimmer each had nice moments.  Withey’s post defense was really good, but every time one of those shots missed, he never got the rebound.  I mean never.  He got zero rebounds in 13 minutes.
  • The Pelicans defense still has moments of being really, really bad defending the pick and roll.  Too often Pelican players not named Asik stay home on the screener and don’t help bump the driving player.  This could be by design, but it means someone should come from the weakside and bump the ballhandler and that’s not happening either.  Somebody needs to bump someone fellas.

Next game is Thursday against in Houston.  Watch Party!

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Game On: Jazz @ Pelicans Tue, 16 Dec 2014 18:09:45 +0000 When last the Pelicans played the Jazz, they were a scrappy 5-8 team looking to stay in contact with a .500 record.  Since then, they’ve gone 1-10 and are now cannon fodder for the good teams in the league.

The Pelicans need this game so they can continue to weather a tough stretch of teams through December at .500, setting up a run in January against a soft set of teams.  When you have to face a slate that has Houston, Portland, OKC, San Antonio twice, and Chicago, you need to take your games against the Jazz when you can get them.

And, of course, there’s no word on if Davis will be back for this game, and without him I have no idea if the team’s torrid offense can continue the way it has the past two games in his absence.

Still, there are obvious holes in this Jazz team to attack.  Let’s talk Keys to the Game.

  1. Keep from fouling.  The Jazz have shot poorly all season long, but their offense is league average because the draw a lot of free throws between Hayward, Burks and Favors.  Favors may be out for this game, but if the Pelicans keep the Jazz’s free throws under their average of 24, the Jazz offense should sputter.
  2. Play the Jazz for the drive.  The Jazz are top 8 in the league in both number of drives and FG% off drives.  They are bottom ten in catch and shoot percentages.  Play off the jazz, collapse on their drives, and let them see if they can beat the Pelicans with their poor shooting.
  3. Box out.  The Jazz are an interesting rebounding team.  Per Sports VU, they don’t often get in position to rebound compared to the rest of the league – but if they have a chance at a board, they grab it 61% of the time, which is top five in the league.  If the Pels can just keep them away from the glass, something the Jazz won’t fight, they should win there easily.

Enjoy the game!

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Moleskin Moments: Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans 12.14 Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:07:44 +0000 The Golden State Warriors have been red-hot, led by Stephen Curry, who has been on video game mode for what feels like an eternity. With the New Orleans Pelicans short Anthony Davis, this wasn’t expected to be a close game, despite the recent impressive win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the Pelicans played a good game, battling back and forth with the Warriors, but in the end, the Pelicans were unable to close the game out, and lost a winnable game, albeit one that many didn’t expect them to win at the outset. Here is what I saw:

• On Sunday games in baseball, you see a lot of people on the back end of the roster sprout up, giving regular starters a rest and trying out guys who don’t get to play much. With the Pelicans starting Luke Babbitt and Ryan Anderson, and having John Salmons, Jimmer Fredette, and Jeff Withey all playing big minutes, this felt like a “Sunday” game.
• Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans were aggressive early, with the offense running solely through them. The Warriors were unable to keep them out of the paint, and Evans and Holiday got whatever they wanted.
• The first sub, of Austin Rivers for Babbitt, resulted in Evans switching to the three. The second sub, of Dante Cunningham for Omer Asik, resulted in Cunningham playing power forward, which may be his more natural position.
• Withey had a nice pick and roll, where after he was hit with a pass in the paint, he sent it right back out to Cunningham, who nailed a midrange jumper.
• Cunningham was hitting everything from the elbow, whether it was jumpers or Harrison Barnes’ face.
• A guy behind me, who couldn’t tell the different between Shaun Livingston and Curry and said “Curry”, (who was actually Livingston), looked like Rivers, could tell that this was a bad lineup in the game. The lineup (which the Pelicans started the 2nd quarter with) was: Rivers, Fredette, Salmons, Cunningham, Withey.
• When Evans is on, he is fun to watch.
• Withey played great throughout the game, doing all the little things you want out of a big man. He might have wrangled the position away from Alexis Ajinca over the last two games.
• On the other hand, Salmons is still playing as if his sole reason for being on the team is so Coach Monty Williams can relive his playing days.
• Beautiful defense by Holiday throughout the game. In particular, there was a sequence when the game was tied at 93,that Holiday closed out on Klay Thompson, bumped him so he couldn’t fly by him, then somehow extended and blocked Thompson’s jumper, retaining the ball.
• Evans leaves the floor with five fouls and about four and a half minutes left in the game. It is a move that will have to be reviewed later, but I didn’t like it at the time or now. Evans was brought back in shortly afterwards, with the Pelicans having squandered the lead, but not much time having past. If Monty wants to trust Evans not picking up a foul, the minute Evans was on the bench did very little in saving him for the end of the game. If Monty wants to trust his teammates, he should have left Evans out for another minute. This move seems to just have broken Evans’ rhythm (he had just made a step-back three), without giving the rest of the guys a chance to get into their own.
• One possession results in Holiday dribbling away from the pick, then taking a contested midrange jumper from the baseline.
• The next possession results in Holiday isolating, then barreling into a defender down-low, and having an offensive foul called on him.
• If your most passive player is doing that two possessions in a row, at least one of these two things is true: he is either not trusting the roster out there with him, or doesn’t have a good system to initiate.
• Out of timeout play: After Marreese Speights nails a free throw to tie the game, the Pelicans execute an Evans isolation which results in a deflected ball going out of bounds. Babbitt inbounds the ball poorly, resulting in Evans saving the pass, Holiday penetrating and finding an open Anderson, who airballs a three. Neither play was exactly exemplary.
• The team has no confidence in inbounding the next possession either, with Evans catching the ball from behind half court and chucking a prayer as time expired.
• Babbitt should not be inbounding anymore passes any time soon.
• How many airballs did Ryan Anderson have tonight?
• The fourth quarter and overtime weren’t friendly to Anderson. Monty put him in a tough spot, as Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr put five perimeter players on the floor for overtime. While the Pelicans don’t have five perimeter players as good as the Warriors do, having Anderson in the game, but not posting up Draymond Greer or Andre Iguodala when they were on him, felt like a misstep.

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Tyreke Evans and Small Sample Sizes (Revisited) Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:01:25 +0000 About a month ago, I wrote a post titled Tyreke Evans and Small Sample Sizes. The point of that piece was to show what problems come with small sample sizes and exactly why we should be wary of them. I used Tyreke Evans’ poor shooting at the rim over the first 8 games of the season as a case study. At the end of that post, I wrote,

“His percentage could drop for any number of reasons, but we won’t know more until we approach that magical 20-30 game mark.”

Well, we are at 22 games played, and I thought it would be a good time to return to this question with a short piece examining how his percent at the rim has changed since then. (Note: the data set hasn’t been updated to include last nights Golden State game. Those numbers aren’t available yet.)

Just to remind you, after 8 games Tyreke was shooting 43.7% at the rim, according to Here is a copy of the column graph that includes his shooting through 8 games and 22 games this season.

Tyreke Evans Small Sample 2

It is pretty clear that we saw an increase. His percent rose from 43.7% to 52.2%. Now, he still isn’t shooting as well at the rim as he has in previous years, but he is pretty close. Evans could easily increase his percentage to last year’s mark of 54.4%. The idea that Tyreke was going to have a historically bad season at the rim seems to be gone for now. To recap, as our sample size grew, Tyreke’s percentage at the rim increased to be closer to his career average. In other words, what we expected to happen when sample sizes grew larger did happen. Cool.



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Pelicans Lose Heartbreaker in OT Mon, 15 Dec 2014 05:59:59 +0000 For the 3rd game in a row the Pelicans had two 30pt scorers. This time it was the Pels’ backcourt duo of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday, combining for 64pts, 11rebs, 14asts, 7stls, and 3blks to help take the NBA’s best team down to the wire.  Unfortunately it wasn’t enough as the Pels fell in OT 128-122.  GS led 60-51 at half, but a 38pt 3rd by the Pels got them back into the game. They matched everything the Warriors threw at them in the 4th, but just couldn’t hold on in OT.

There honestly isn’t anything negative to say about the Pelicans, the way they fought and the defense they played tonight was nothing short of inspired.  Curry, Thompson, those guys are gonna score on you, they are pretty much the best backcourt in the league, but Jrue and Tyreke matched them toe to toe, and in my biased eyes outplayed them.  The defense, led by a stellar performance from Holiday, forced 20 turnovers, 6 from Curry, leading to 23 points for Pels.  Everyone contributed, double digit points from Cunningham and Withey, hustle plays and all around effort from Rivers, it just wasn’t enough to bring down the now 21-2 league leading Warriors.

Perhaps the deciding factor was the 3 ball – a theme in Golden State games.  Babbit, Rivers, and Anderson shot a combined 4-15 from deep, while Golden State as a team shot 45.8% on 11-24 from deep.  Anderson was just 5-16 from the field, as the form he found in Friday night’s performance against the Cavs did not carry over.  He is now at 33% on the season from the 3pt line (having taken over 150 shots); he hasn’t shot under 38% from 3 since the 09-10 season.

Evans, however, is in great form after a slow start to the season. He has now scored 30 or more in back to back games against 2 elite teams and is shooting over 46% from the field in his last 10.

This loss stings, and I am not one to claim moral victories, but in all honesty the Pels looked great in front of a great crowd.  Their form has been on the rise as of late, and hopefully they keep improving after the return of Davis. Next up is a Tuesday night match up against a 6-18 Utah Jazz at the SKC.

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Game On: Warriors @ Pelicans Sun, 14 Dec 2014 21:44:52 +0000 The Pelicans host the Golden State Warriors tonight at 5 CT.  It is the 2nd meeting between the two this year, with the first ending in a 112-85 thumping of New Orleans.  The Warriors (20-2) are off to one of the best starts to a season in NBA history, currently on a 15-game win streak, torching the league with one of the best offenses backed up by arguably the NBA’s best defense.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Pels as unfortunately they will be without MVP candidate Anthony Davis, who is day to day after suffering a chest contusion Friday against Cleveland.

But there is good news for the Pels.  Golden State will be without defensive anchor Andrew Bogut, which should make getting to the rim that much easier for Tyreke Evans and Co.  The Pels come in off a signature win over Lebron James’ Cavaliers.  Evans and Ryan Anderson combined for 61 point to help make up for the absence of Davis, who only played the first 7 minutes of the game.  In fact, the Pels have had 4 different 30pt scorers in the last two games.  They will need to keep up that production if they want to have a chance against GSW.

Some keys to the game:

  • Take advantage of a thiner than normal GS front court.
    • Attack the Rim.  With Andrew Bogut, as well as David Lee, out for the game, Golden State’s front court looks thin.  The Pels’ guards will need to be aggressive to open up the floor for Anderson, who needs all the help he can get as GS  is holding opponents to 30% from 3.
      • Ryan Anderson has not been at his best this season, shooting a career low from 3, but he is coming off an 8-14 from deep performance.  Hopefully Anderson has turned a corner because the Pels will need his shooting to keep up with Golden State’s 3pt threats.
    • Attack the Offensive Boards. The Pelicans are a great offensive rebounding team and GS is missing its best rebounder, enough said.
  • Omer Asik.  With Davis out can he pick up a little bit of production on the offensive end?
  • No Defensive Break Downs.  Dont make defending the splash bros harder than it already is.

Enjoy the Game!

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Watch Party Thursday, December 18th @ Tracey’s! Sun, 14 Dec 2014 16:23:56 +0000 Tracey's logo 0211

Don’t forget this coming Thursday at Tracey’s on Magazine Street Bourbon Street Shots will be having our second watch party of the season. It’s a big divisional match up against the Houston Rockets. We had a great turnout last month! So come grab some wings and talk Pelicans with our writers. And maybe if we pool our collective willpower the Pelicans will win.

Don’t forget to RSVP on our Facebook Event Page!

What You Need To Know

When: Thursday December 18th at 7:30 pm central.

Where: Tracey’s Original Irish Channel Bar. Third and Magazine Street.

Who: Bourbon Street Shots. And You!

The Result: Pelicans Divisional Domination

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Observations: Pelicans Win At Home Against Cleveland Sat, 13 Dec 2014 04:00:22 +0000 With 5:30 left in the 1st quarter Anthony Davis checked out of the game and did not return. It’s unclear what exactly caused the issue with the official word being that he suffered a chest contusion.

There’s been a lot of commentary recently that without Anthony Davis the Pelicans have a hard time playing well. When he’s off the court the Pelicans’ offensive rating dips to a paltry 100.9 among a variety of other metrics.

Tonight New Orleans had a tough task with Lebron James on fire. There was a sequence in the third quarter where Lebron hit every jumper. Babbitt, trying to take away the drive, gave him the room needed to step into his shot. It was quite awesome to watch because at the other end Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday were taking the Cavs to task.

And that really is the story tonight. Lebron threw everything at the Pelicans, but whatever he was doing offensively the Pels were doing as a team at the other end. Everyone must commend the energy New Orleans brought in Davis’ absence. Evans, Anderson and Holiday did a tremendous job of doing everything they could to get the win. That’s what made tonight so much fun, was watching these role players excel without the best player available.

As the game moved to the final period it did start off well. New Orleans seemed to have things in control before a mini Cavs run made things uneasy. However a Luke Babbitt three from the top sealed the win and gave the fans something to be happy about. NOLA is now back to .500, now sitting at 11-11.


  • Tyreke Evans was an absolute bully tonight. Jen Hale asked what Coach Williams said to him post game and all he could say that it involved violence, so he couldn’t elaborate. Well, Evans was taking it to the Cavs tonight and was violating the common decency of Cleveland. He was finishing around the basket, finding team-mates and playing in control for most of the night. Over the past few weeks the most pleasing thing to see is how Evans has been able to find others when he drives. The entire defense collapses and will inevitably leave others open. Continuing this will be vital if the Pelicans want their offense to fire on all cylinders. He finished with 31 points on 24 shots, 10 assists on 2 turnovers and had a block and a steal.
  • Let’s not forget the importance of Ryan Anderson. After going through a bit of a rough patch Anderson hit 8 three’s on the night tying a career high. Before tonight he was shooting 16 per cent from three (over the past 5 games). With Davis out Anderson stepped up big time, filling the scoring void in the front-court. He finished with 30 points on 18 shots, had 4 rebounds and a block and steal.
  • Jrue Holiday‘s defense on Kyrie Irving was the most underrated thing to watch this evening. Kyrie was so pissed off, but Jrue kept on him. Yes, he finished with 17 points and 7 assists (Irving) but most of that was at the end when it never really mattered. At one point he was 0-10 from the field. Maybe Irivng can learn a thing or two from Holiday in terms of defense.
  • If there’s one player I’m very unsure about it’s Kevin Love. He looked okay for most of the game, but his dominance has fallen by the way side in Cleveland. He had 7 rebounds tonight. What the hell is that? For most of the game he is asked to drift well outside the paint and set screens for Irving or Waiters. He never received a post-up once tonight – pretty much all his points came from hustling. The coaches and his team-mates in Cleveland have to get him more involved and put him in positions to succeed – play to his strengths. I personally didn’t see that tonight.
  • The crowd really got into it – especially when Evans was doing his #bullyball
  • We will give you an update on Anthony Davis when we have one. We’re unsure if it’s anything serious, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

The Pelicans are now 11-11 on the season (7-2 at home). They play the Warriors at home on Sunday who will be without Andrew Bogut.

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Game On: Cavs @ Pelicans Sat, 13 Dec 2014 00:49:52 +0000 After battling against the Mavericks a few nights ago the Pelicans return home to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron will play in the game despite suffering a knee injury that head-coach David Blatt said was “nothing major.” Kyrie Irving also is battling through injury and is likely to play tonight.

New Orleans has been a jekyll and hyde team on the road and at home. They’ve played some of the fewest number of games in New Orleans, with a 6-2 record.

The last time these two teams met it was an extremely close encounter with Cleveland winning 118-111. Lebron James was truly dominate putting up a triple double. Ryan Anderson was hitting his shots, scoring 31 points (something that’s been lacking of late).

Keys for tonight’s game:

  • Forcing other’s to beat them: The Cavs have been on a roll of late, winning 8 of their last 9. Lebron James destroyed New Orleans last time they met and again it’ll be interesting to see the defensive scheme put in place to limit him. Kevin Love has been fairly inconsistent for Cleveland and Dion Waiters always thinks he’s amazing. Perhaps the best defensive game plan is to give Waiters the ball?
  • Both teams have fairly efficient offenses: Cleveland’s O-Rating (4th) and New Orleans O-Rtg (6th). Pretty exciting if you ask me. Expect tonight to be a high scoring game. New Orleans has the worse defense of the two (statistically) but with a slowed Lebron could things tip towards New Orleans?
  • Ryan Anderson has been terrible over the last five games. He’s shot 16 per cent from three and averaged a meager 9 points a game. Having someone contribute off the bench is becoming a bit of a sticking point for the Pelicans and Anderson needs to get back to being the threat he’s been in the past.

Game kicks off just after 8pm ET – Follow us on twitter @BourbonStShots

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Preparing for the Weekend at the Smoothie King Center Fri, 12 Dec 2014 20:43:02 +0000 We have a basketball team, that basketball team has Anthony Davis, and that man and that team are facing off, at home, against two of the hottest teams in the league this weekend. There’s bound to be a lot of riff-raff at the Blender. Let’s talk about it.

FullSizeRenderLebron James and Stephen Curry are very good at basketball. To combat this as best we can from the stands, we need to be very good at cheering when our Lebron and Stephen make amazing happen. There will be woos at every Curry shot behind the arc and there will be oohs at every James dunk in transition. When Anthony Davis does that thing with his arms where they become four-five times as long as we’re positive they actually are and he blocks a shot or catches an off-target alley-oop, we need to stand up and yell. That guy is wearing a New Orleans jersey. That’s the guy who should be getting the loudest response from the fans.

There will be lots of Cleveland and Bay Area jerseys in the building, most of which are likely to be worn by people who have never been to Ohio and California. The NBA is more popular in New Orleans than most realize and so when a player is good, there are people who live in New Orleans that buy their jersey. Those people put on said jersey and wear them when that player is visiting. That’s their right and frankly, I’m happy they are paying attention to basketball. But those of us who take pride in our team, who read the analysis, we need to be bigger cheerleaders than they are. This is our team, our arena, our city.

I am so excited for the days that the visiting superstar doesn’t account for a fifth of the crowd. We’re not there, yet, this is true. But this weekend is the best opportunity this season for a pair of big victories for the team on the court and a pair of small victories for the fans off the court. Be loud. Or, at least, be louder than the people wearing Lebron jerseys. Especially be louder than the guy wearing the Miami Lebron jersey.


Chris Trew is a comedian that was named “Best Local Comedian on Twitter by Gambit readers in 2013 and 2014. Follow his personal account here and his sports account here. He performs live comedy in New Orleans every week at The New Movement.

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