The New Orleans Pelicans could not defeat Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday but sure made the team sweat.
The New Orleans Pelicans‘ Wednesday night matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers was a grudge match of sorts, mostly for the Pelicans. The young duo of Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart were squaring off against their old team, who shipped them, and Lonzo Ball, to New Orleans for Anthony Davis.
Ball did not play because of an illness but Hart and Ingram certainly came to play and were taking it early to the Lakers. In fact, the Pelicans looked outstanding in the first quarter of play and it was probably the best quarter of action by the Pelicans all season long.
Hart and Ingram were both a part of that, although like the rest of the game, the star of the night was Jrue Holiday. Holiday finished the night with 29 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and several plays that will be replayed on SportsCenter.
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However, rather ironically, it was Holiday’s inbound pass that sealed the deal. Trailing by two, Davis intercepted Holiday’s pass and went on to make two free throws to give the game its final 114-110 margin. The Pelicans walked away with nothing to show for the remarkable first quarter.
The Pelicans made eight of nine three-point shots in the first quarter and were seemingly doing everything right. From moving the ball, to winning in isolation to containing the Lakers on the other end, the Pelicans played their absolute best style of basketball in those 12 minutes and had exited the quarter with a 38-25 lead.
Despite the loss, the Pelicans showed a lot of promising things outside of the just the first quarter against the Lakers. The Lakers are the best team in the NBA right now and losing in this manner is nothing to be ashamed of.
The three-point shooting was lights out and carried on the team’s trend of solid shooting. It was the shooting that suffocated the Lakers and the Pelicans ended up shooting 42.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Defensively, the Pelicans looked good as well. While they benefitted from the Lakers missing some open shots, the Pelicans did a good enough job on the defensive end in clogging the lanes to hold the Lakers to 114 points. That is not a great defensive outing by regular standards, but considering how bad it could have been, it is a win for New Orleans.
The thing I was most happy to see in this game was the team getting to the free-throw line. The Pelicans have been one of the worst teams in getting to the line and making their free-throw shots and tonight they actually had more attempts than the Lakers, 30 to 25.
New Orleans made 25 and Los Angeles made 18. This is great for a team that averaged 15.6 makes and 21.5 attempts heading into this game.
The one negative that did stand out was how badly the Pelicans were mismatched in the paint, which was predictable heading into the contest as the Pelicans are undersized and the Lakers are one of the best teams in the league at scoring at the rim.
The New Orleans Pelicans scored only 26 points in the paint compared to the 62 points in the paint scored by the Lakers. The Pelicans did outrebound the Lakers, though, 42 to 37.
All in all, it was a promising showing not only for the results but for the eye test. After being blown out by the Los Angeles Clippers it was a huge morale victory to hang around and almost beat the Lakers, proving yet again that the team could make some noise once Zion Williamson makes his debut.