Melo Carries Knicks to 98-91 Victory over Pelicans

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Published: February 19, 2014

Another night of questionable rotations for New Orleans, and another loss. In this game, both teams’ best and most efficient scorers averaged between 1.4 and 1.45 points per field goal attempt; the difference was that the winning team’s top option (Carmelo Anthony) took 29 shots and the losing team’s top option (Anthony Davis) attempted just 10 shots. Furthermore, the losing team’s best scorer for the night (Eric Gordon) played under 4 minutes in the fourth quarter while Carmelo played 9. Despite the Knicks’ inability to score at the rim this season, the Pelicans still did not pay close enough attention to the 3-point line, as Prigioni, Smith, & Hardaway Jr. combined to make 8 out of 13 attempts from that distance tonight. All that doesn’t even take into account the utter lack of floor spacing deployed by the Pelicans during stretches throughout the night. The result was a Pelicans loss to start out the second half of the season… in a home game against a team 13 games under .500 on the second night of a back-to-back. I’m going to go straight to a look at the pregame keys to victory before I start throwing things.

  1. Space the floor. While the Pelicans didn’t perform particularly well from long range (33.3%), it wasn’t for lack of trying, as they attempted 21 shots from that distance. Many of their attempts were contested, so kudos to New York for playing better perimeter defense than usual.
  2. Win the free throw battle. The Pelicans attempted 21 free throws compared to the Knicks’ 20 (both teams made 14), but given the two teams’ prior tendencies, one would have hoped for a larger disparity in favor of New Orleans. Anthony and Gordon combined for 20 of the game’s 41 free throw attempts
  3. Don’t settle early in the shot clock. The Pelicans could have done worse here – they made over half (28/54) of their 2-pointers tonight, including 42 points in the paint (the Knicks were allowing 38.7 points in the paint per game entering  tonight’s game). The bigger issues for the Pelicans tonight came on the defensive end.

Pelicans are in Charlotte on Friday night to take on the Bobcats, a game which will be far less of a pushover than it has been in previous years. Tune in, as it should be a good match-up.

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