Moleskin Moments: Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans 12.14

Published: December 15, 2014

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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