The Indiana Pacers were literally giving Friday night’s game away to the Pelicans, but somehow they still managed to come out of New Orleans with a 91-86 victory. And as has been the case all season long for New Orleans so far, the Pelicans are stealing everything but wins.
The Pelicans (11-24) stole the ball a franchise record 21 times from the Indiana Pacers (21-15) last night, but failed to take advantage.
A total of 24 turnovers were only converted into 18 points on the other end. Putting a stop to the opponent’s offense is great, but it is a lot less meaningful if the extra possessions are not fruitful.
The Pelicans could not get shots to fall no matter how a possession started. As a team they only shot 37.3% (31-83) compared to the 44.4% mark (36-81) of the Pacers.
Some of the possessions lost by the Pacers in turnover differential (+9 for the Pelicans) were made up in the form of offensive rebounds, of which they were able to snatch 14 to the Pelicans’ 8.
Statistics and numbers can usually provide a pretty good sense of how a game played out and why. While the statements above each help in that regard, they are insignificant compared to one stat in particular:
Anthony Davis minutes played: 3.
Jan 8, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) reacts after diving out of bounds during the first quarter of the game against the Indiana Pacers at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
In the opening minutes of the game, Davis dove into the stands to save a loose rebound (which he did, although the Pacers gained possession) and hurt his lower back. After trying to play through the pain for a few moments, he was subbed out of the game and did not return.
The Pacers are no slouch in the Eastern Conference, so losing Davis meant things would be that much harder for the Pelicans to handle.
Even after the injury, the offense of New Orleans was looking good in the first quarter. They won the period 30-16 anchored by 11 points from Ryan Anderson, who finished with 21 points on 7-17 shooting.
The Pels offense and the game took a 180 degree turn in the second quarter, with the Pacers taking the frame 22-13.
Tyreke Evans led all scorers with 27 points in addition to 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. The ball still stalls a bit when Evans takes control on more than a few possessions each game, but it would be a bit more acceptable if the rest of the team was able to knock down some looks. Not having Davis as a reliable option hurts, but the rest of the guys have to do a better job at taking advantage of their opportunities.
Eric Gordon had a particularly rough game, shooting 3-13 and a bleak 1-6 fro behind the three point line. His performance and the game could be identified by one play at the tail end of the game.
Jan 8, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon (10) drives down against Indiana Pacers guard Monta Ellis (11) during the second half of the game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pacers won 91-86. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
With the Pelicans down by three with under a minute remaining, Gordon found himself open in the corner where he hesitated to shoot, then shot a couple moments later only to have the shot blocked and gathered by the Pacers, who sealed the game with free throws. Especially with Davis out of the picture, Gordon needs to be on his game for the Pelicans to keep up the pressure on opposing defenses.
Even with a performance as bad as that, Gordon was not the worst shooter on the floor for the Pelicans. That honor goes to Norris Cole.
Cole was 1-9 on the night, which looks a lot better than it actually was. If a Pelicans fan actually got sick from each ill-advised shot Norris Cole took, the entire Smoothie King Center may have been watching the game with Anthony Davis. It appeared for a brief stretch the Cole was finally starting to get that getting to the rim was his best option on offense, but his 20 foot contested mid range jumper always seems to phase back into the mix.
Jan 8, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Norris Cole (30) moves the ball down the court during the second quarter of the game against the Indiana Pacers at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
With Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon starting and Jrue Holiday coming off of the bench, Cole is the fourth guard on a team that is still trying to be competitive and successful this season.
He needs to step up his game and sure up his mistakes, and he should see a drop in playing time until he does.
However, with Ish Smith no longer on the roster, Gentry really has no one else to turn to.
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Hopefully Cole, the rest of the backcourt, and Anthony Davis will be on their games come Sunday afternoon when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers (2:30 CST).
Until that time, we can only hope that somehow, some way; that this basketball team can take the day off to “right their ship” a bit and at least try to manage climbing out of the ever-deepening hole that they now find themselves in.
A new season that was once filled with promise and hope, now teeters on the edge of unmitigated disaster — and instead of competing for a spot in the Western Conference Playoffs by this point of the season as had been the expectation, the Pelicans now are simply just hoping to avoid the embarrassment of finishing dead last.
It would seem that the Pelicans are intent on stealing any feelings of enthusiasm that the fans of NOLA had began to build for them, coming into the new NBA league year.
Unfortunately, the Pelicans are stealing everything but wins…………….