Pelicans Play Hard But Same Problems Lead To a Loss

Published: January 18, 2016

I said in my preview that this game had the option to show the Pelicans were maybe turning a corner and keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. Or they’d show us that they are the same team that tantalizingly puts two wins together (it’s sad that’s considered a lot at this point) but can’t reach the level it takes to win three in a row.

A 101-99 loss to the Grizzlies make it seem like the latter, however this loss isn’t as bad as it could have been. Sure the Pelicans looked like the same old Pelicans to start–especially with Norris Cole starting in place of Tyreke Evans–but some surprisingly good defense kept the Pelicans in the game while they started generating offense. But the Pelicans couldn’t get going from deep tonight–it took a buzzer beating 3 from Anderson right before halftime for the Pelicans to hit their first–and that let Memphis stay in the game all night. With the Pelicans unable to pull away, Memphis was able to grind out a win.

Some Observations

–The offense looks completely different when Holiday is on the court. In 29 minutes he scored 23 points, on 9 of 13 shooting, while putting up 9 assists. It was a sharp contrast to Norris Cole who did not play well in his 30 minutes of action. Gentry likes bringing Holiday in off the bench, but eventually it looks like he’ll be forced to make the right move and start the former All-Star.

–Omer Asik gets a lot of flack, and a lot of it deserved, but he gave the Pelicans exactly what you’d want out of him. He only played 20 minutes, which, given his limitations, seems about right. In those limited minutes he hustled, grabbed rebounds and played defense. Most importantly he was active running down the court to get back on defense. He went 4 of 4 from the field. It was perfect. He wasn’t a focal point of the offense, but did just enough to contribute.

–Inconsistent shooting is going to be a problem and I have no idea how the Pelicans solve this issue. The Pelicans went  for 19 from behind the arc, with 5 of those coming in the second half. When they’re cold like that the Pelicans become much easier to defend as a one dimensional team. Adding more consistent shooting to this team has got to be a focus for Dell Demps.

–Anthony Davis seem like he was in line for a monster game after a 9 point first quarter. However he vanished a bit in the second and didn’t score at all in the third. Part of that was tweaking his back, but part of it is also teammates looking to get their shots off and not getting him the ball. This is a huge area that Gentry needs to work on.

–The defense look surprisingly capable tonight. It gives hope for the future but at the same time you can clearly see the issues. A lack of court awareness leaves cutters wide open, acting lackadaisical leaves open three-point shooters, and there is no one outside of Holiday who can slow down wing players. Missing Pondexter for the season hurts, and I wonder what this unit could do with even just one of those problems fixed.

So another game and another mixed bag for the Pelicans. It’s a loss, but there is some solace that the team had more bright spots than dark ones tonight. With a long homestand coming up the Pelicans will have another opportunity to get a win steak going.


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