The New Orleans Pelicans struggled to get consistent offense from their backup guards tonight, while Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook went on a tear.
The result was the Pelicans’ 2nd straight loss following a stretch that had seen them win 4 of their last 6 games.
Coming into this game, Westbrook had nine triple-doubles on the season and had just nabbed his 4th straight. Westbrook is a known stat-sheet stuffer in the midst of a particularly incredible stretch of games.
Unfortunately the Pelicans found themselves in Westbrook’s way tonight, and he politely shoved them down and waltzed right past them.
Dec 4, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket in front of New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Westbrook was additionally motivated tonight, given that he is currently 2nd in the NBA in points per game, and the opposing team features the guy who’s number one.
While Westbrook was incredible, Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis was no slouch either.
Gentry forced him to play a grueling 43 minutes tonight, barely ever giving him a second to catch his breath. AD put up 37 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, and 2 steals tonight on 14/32 shooting.
Westbrook out-shined him with 28 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists on 10/23 shooting and a gorgeous game defining three. What’s likely to be overlooked is the fact that Westbrook had 9 more turnovers than AD.
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On the whole, tonight wasn’t the Pelicans worst effort. Galloway, Hill, Brown, and Frazier shot a horrendous 3-24 from the floor, but they played sensible defense. They weren’t taking bad shots, they just couldn’t get any of them to fall.
Holiday and Moore were functional. Both put up 10 points and weren’t completely off when they shot the ball. Jrue had seven assists and only 3 turnovers, Moore had two and two and played just 23 minutes.
The only Pelicans who played “well” tonight were AD and Buddy.
Dec 4, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket in front of New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
After a severe drop in playing time and a series of bizarre bricked shots, many Pelicans fans are beginning to doubt Buddy’s future with this team. Tonight won’t put those fears to bed, but it might quite them down for a while.
Buddy was the main reason the Pelicans didn’t get blown out in the 4th quarter. He put up 16 points one assist, and four rebounds in just 15 minutes of playing time and shot efficiently and confidently.
Shooting 6/12 from the floor, but more importantly 4/7 from deep, he was able to find his rhythm and quickly regained his confidence when he saw a few shots fall.
Dec 4, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Buddy Hield (24) attempts a 3 point shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Buddy likely benefited from the warm reception the OKC crowd gave him when he initially check in the game. Having watched him as a member of the Oklahoma Sooners in college, they were eager to see him play and rooting for his individual success.
The game would have been over with about four minutes left, but Buddy nailed two back to back threes and brought the Pelicans within four. It looked like they might be able to mount a comeback, but Russell Westbrook stomped on their dreams before they could even try.
With barely a minute left, Russ rose up for a tightly contested three and swished it like he was wide open. The Pelicans still tried to finish strong, but they had a “really man??” expression on their faces that made it clear tonight was going to be a loss.
Tonight was Westbrook’s night, the Pelicans couldn’t really do anything to change that. Tomorrow they will head back home to take on the 13-8 Memphis Grizzlies.
Time is running out and they seem to be falling deeper down the rabbit hole. Unless changes are made, this is looking like yet another punted season…..