Short-Handed Pelicans Drop Tough One to Jazz 100-96

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Published: February 9, 2015

The Pelicans went into halftime with a 52-42 lead over the Jazz. New Orleans scored a solid 10 first half points off of turnovers against a team giving up 18 points per game in that category, 5th worst in the NBA. The Pelicans made an impressive 9 out of 15 three-pointers against a Jazz team allowing opponents to shoot 37.3% from beyond the arc, 2nd worst in the NBA. New Orleans held Utah to 27.3% (6-22) shooting at the rim, a truly excellent number. The Pelicans only turned the ball over 4 times, about as good as you can hope for with Jrue Holiday sidelined. In the second half, the Pelicans made 57% of their three-point attempts (4-7). They again held the Jazz under 40% shooting at the rim (9-25) despite 14 more second chance points for Utah.

In spite of all of these excellent statistics, the Pelicans lost 100-96 to the Jazz tonight.

How?

Two big, big reasons:

  1. Second Chance Points
    – Jazz Season Average: 15 points per game
    – Tonight: 30 points
  2. Points off of Turnovers
    – Season Average: 14.9 points per game
    – Tonight: 24 points

There you have it. Utah absolutely CRUSHED New Orleans on the offensive glass, finishing with 21 offensive rebounds and a ridiculous 44.7% offensive rebound rate. For comparison’s sake, no team in the NBA is even over a 30% ORR this season. Additionally, while the Pelicans only turned the ball over 2 more times (15) than what they have averaged this season (13.0) or 2.6 more times than what the Jazz usually force (12.4 per game), the kind of turnovers they committed was what burned New Orleans. Most of these mistakes came via carelessness from Pelicans guards (11 turnovers combined from Gordon and Evans), resulting in live ball turnovers that have a far higher probability of resulting in points for the opponent. Utah was therefore able to convert those 15 turnovers into 24 points, nearly 10 more than they have averaged this season. In total, that’s 24 more points for the Jazz above their expected output (+15 in second chance points and +9 in points off of turnovers); with that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the Pelicans were unable to come away with the victory.

Other Notes:

  • The Pelicans had a block party tonight, swatting away one less (17) than the team record for blocks (18). Omer Asik and Dante Cunningham (!) contributed 5 apiece. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that the Jazz finished the game a mere 15-47 at the rim, and with a significant number of those makes coming on second chance opportunities. Asik was dominant defensively tonight, and if he had any sort of help on the glass, the Pelicans likely would not have lost.
  • Eric Gordon did everything he could on the offensive end to pull this one out for the Pelicans. Gordon finished with 31 points on 14 shots (about 2.2 points per field goal attempt), including a scintillating 7-8 from 3-point range. With that kind of shooting, a full-strength Pelicans team can beat anyone in the league. Unfortunately, tonight’s team was far from full strength.
  • Luke Babbitt’s scoring numbers (15 points on 14 shots) don’t look terribly impressive, but he gave 100% on both sides of the ball today. He was never outmatched on defense, and he had a couple nice drives and finishes. Please don’t start asking why he doesn’t get more minutes, though, because with a near-healthy Pelicans roster, he simply doesn’t bring enough to the table to get any. Without Anderson, Davis, and Holiday, though, they needed him and he certainly accomplished what was asked of him.
  • Ajinca only played 7 minutes in the first half because of the three fouls he picked up in that time, but he played 20 out of 24 second half minutes without picking up another one. He was solid from mid-range, but seemed tentative at times on the defensive end in the second half so as not to pick up any more fouls. Tonight gave a pretty clear rationale for why he can’t be relied on consistently as a starter – against strong starting front courts, foul trouble is the most likely outcome for him. Against second units, he fares much better.
  • Gordon Hayward was excellent tonight for Utah. The Jazz’s best player finished with a team-leading 32 points (25 in the second half alone) and 8 assists in addition to 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and a blocked shot. Hayward was the catalyst for his team’s second half comeback, as he is proving more and more frequently why he deserved that max extension he received last summer.

The Pelicans host the Pacers in the team’s last game before the All-Star break. No word yet if Davis or Anderson will play, but hopefully at least one of the two is good to go against an Indiana team that has played quite well lately.

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