Pelicans Can’t Hold On, Fall to Grizzlies

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Published: March 13, 2014

The depleted Pelicans just couldn’t quite hold on for a victory against the Grizzlies, losing 90-88. Some nights you just don’t have enough firepower, and in the end this was one of them. Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans both missed the contest with flu like symptoms, and even a huge game by Anthony Davis wasn’t enough to take home another W.

After the game Monty couldn’t help but wonder what if. “We’re missing Tyreke and Eric and we lose by two points,” Monty said. “I’m thinking about what could we have done if we were at full strength?”

But after being unable to close out the Grizz at home for a fourth straight win, Pelicans fans are probably going to be thinking as much about a few decisions and plays as they are what would have resulted with a healthy lineup tonight. What if they hadn’t wasted a timeout trying to inbound and had it available to draw up a play to close the game? What if Monty hadn’t played Steamer throughout the decisive fourth quarter? Or what if Monty had found a way to get our star more involved offensively in the second half?

Despite some struggles,  things were looking good when Anthony Davis nailed two free throws with 3:22 left in the fourth quarter, completing a perfect night at the line for the Pelicans (22-22) and giving them an 88-81 lead, but that would be all she wrote offensively. Nola combined to go 0-for-5 with a pair of turnovers the rest of the way, paving the way for Memphis to close on a 9-0 run, stealing a win in the process. Tony Allen scored five of the final nine points and Marc Gasol had a key hoop as well, but it was Mike Conley’s bucket over the fingertips of Davis that closed the deal for Memphis.

That bucket put a damper on an otherwise impressive night for the now 21-year old unibrowed superstar.

He finished with 29 points on only 14 shots, 10 boards, 4 blocks, a steal and just one turnover. It sure is too bad that Memphis was able to shut him down entirely in the second half simply by switching Tayshaun Prince and James Johnson to him and doubling a bit more in the paint. Our lone offensive weapon accumulated a grand total of three shot attempts in the second half of the game.

Did you catch that?

Three shot attempts all half.

On one hand, I’m impressed that Davis was able to put up such a stat line with such a low volume half. His 29 points were more than any two Pelicans players scored combined. In fact, it was 13 more than anyone else had in the game.

On the other hand, I’m disappointed yet again that Monty didn’t make appropriate adjustments to keep Davis involved. He seemed content to stick with what worked in the first half, and was either unaware or unconcerned that Davis was struggling to make an impact on offense in the second. When your two best scoring options are your team’s seventh leading scorer or numero uno, you figure out a way to get your alpha dog the rock.

On my third hand, I can’t help but wonder if the Griz weren’t able to shut Davis down in large part because they finally realized that everyone else on the court is subpar. It’s not like Brian Roberts and Austin Rivers require double teams. Late in the game Darius Miller came in as a shooter. Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans may not be superstars, but they certainly draw more attention from the opposition than anything else the Pelicans had available outside of Davis.

Not to pile on Monty too much, but he rode the Greg Stiemsma train all the way to defeat tonight. The Steamer played just about every meaningful minute in the fourth quarter, and it’s difficult to understand why. He made mistake after mistake, doing nothing to justify keeping him out there. Yet instead of seeing some Jeff Withey (who played a pretty solid 6 minutes, scoring 4 points and grabbing 4 boards), Monty stuck with the veteran.

Sometimes I think Monty gives too much credit to veteran players simply for having experience. With 8:20 to go in the fourth, Stiemsma committed a useless defensive foul. Had a rookie or second year player done something this boneheaded, Money wouldn’t hesitate to get them out of the game, give them an earful, and then sit them on the bench for at least two millennia to contemplate what they did.

Yet the veteran Steamer remained on the floor…

It was no surprise to see him getting burned at the three point line after a pathetic attempt to switch on a pick and roll on the game winning basket. His positioning was terrible, and Conley took full advantage. Too. Freaking. Easy.

I don’t know that Jeff Withey or Double A would have been any better, but it’s safe to say they couldn’t have been much worse tonight, and especially on that crucial play.

Williams got the organizational stamp of approval before the game when Mickey Loomis said he would be back next year, but that won’t earn him a reprieve from bloodthirsty fans tonight.

Notes

  • The Party Perch has officially transitioned to the Whitney Parade Stand. Rejoice!
  • Austin Rivers set a career high with 9 assists. He added 14 points on 12 shots, but wasn’t able to connect on a three pointer late in the fourth quarter that would have given the Pelicans some much needed points.
  • The Pelicans last real offensive possession resulted in a 30 foot three pointer by Anthony Morrow. The score was tied at the time, and they spent about 12 seconds prior to the shot without ever getting the ball more than a foot inside the three point line. It was a fitting end to the game for Morrow, who went only 2-12. Sometimes shooters miss, but I prefer that next time he misses from a little closer if he’s going to take that shot with 5 or 6 seconds left on the clock.
  • Davis didn’t have a single drink at his 21st birthday party. It paid off. It’s pretty great how seriously he takes basketball.
  • Conley didn’t make a basket in the first half, and the game winner was his only field goal in the fourth quarter.
  • Our Pelicans managed more turnovers (17) than assists (16).
  • For what it’s worth, I thought the team put up a heck of a fight tonight. After hearing that Gordon and Evans were both out, I expected to witness a Pelican stomping. We might not have pulled out the W, but for 47 minutes and 57 seconds it really seemed like we were going to.

 

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