Pelicans @ Clippers: Observations

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Published: December 7, 2014

Though this game arguably provided a better match-up for the Pelicans than the game against the Warriors two nights ago, the Clippers broke things open in the 3rd quarter and never let up, cruising to a 120-100 victory for their 9th win in the past 10 games. This game was by no means one that New Orleans was expected to win, but the margin of victory was undoubtedly disappointing. The biggest driver in that final score? Look no further than Los Angeles’ perimeter shooting:

Clips 3pt

Some other takeaways:

  • The lineup rotations tonight were a bit suspect at times, but in no way were they a major catalyst in the Pelicans’ loss. When Paul, Redick, Barnes, & Crawford combine to make 15 out of 26 3-point attempts, you’re going to have a difficult time winning. Pretty brutal perimeter defense from New Orleans tonight, as they didn’t fight terribly hard through picks. Against a team with as many great 3-point shooters as the Clippers, you just have to fight over the screen on most occasions, especially with a guy like Asik providing your second line of defense.
  • In order to keep up with the Clippers’ strong perimeter shooting, they were going to have to continue to capitalize on their strength of scoring in the restricted area; unfortunately, their 38 points in the paint fell 10 below their league-leading 48 per game. Credit the Clippers for making sure they knew where Anthony Davis was at all times, as one putback dunk was all he got on the offensive glass.
  • Lots to look at with Anthony Davis tonight, both good and bad:
    • As stated above, the Clippers did a good job of keeping him off of the boards (on both ends), and the fact that Griffin went off for 30 points on half as many shots cannot be ignored. Davis was pretty weak all-around on the defensive end, as Blake got way too open inside too many times. The Clippers’ pick-and-roll game is so strong, though, so it wasn’t always Davis who was to blame.
    • On the other hand, despite only one offensive rebound, Davis still found a way to be his typical hyper-efficient self, totaling 26 points on only 15 field goal attempts. His mid-range jumper was stronger than it has been thus far, and his teammates did a good job of finding him inside (one of whom being the newest New Orleans Pelican)
  • In under 11 minutes of action, Gal Mekel tied the Pelicans’ team lead for assists with 6. He had a couple turnovers and didn’t score a point, but overall a pretty solid debut for the Pelicans’ new backup point guard. If it continues, he should earn the backup PG role outright instead of sharing it with Rivers (who, coincidentally, also picked up 6 assists tonight).
  • Babbitt provided an early spark, hitting his first 4 three-point attempts, but Jrue and Ryan Anderson continue to struggle from long range. Both players are shooting a full 5% below their career averages, and just from watching the games, there is no obvious reason why. Shooters just need to keep shooting, and as long as the Pelicans can keep manufacturing open looks, they should start to fall.
  • The Rivers-Salmons-Cunningham lineup has 17 minutes in the past two games with a net rating of -42.3. Mekel-Rivers-Cunningham played 5 minutes tonight with a net rating of +43.3. Super small sample size, of course, so I’ll just leave it at that.
  • Chris Paul somehow IMPROVED his league-leading 6.33 assist/turnover ratio, dishing out 16 dimes while coughing the ball up only twice. The guy is an efficiency machine. Oh, he also tied for the second highest rebound total on his team as well (6).
  • These past two games have been pretty ugly, but playing two top-5 NBA teams on the road isn’t exactly easy. The Pels have faced a top-5 strength of schedule in terms of difficulty, and have played 11 out of 18 games away from New Orleans so far. It’s a long season, and as long as the team stays healthy, they’ll eventually string some wins together.

Pels back in action tomorrow night versus that other team from Los Angeles. New Orleans really needs to come away with a win, as they’re clearly the better team against the Lakers.

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