Pelicans blown away by Lakers despite early 15-point lead
The Pelicans lost to the NBA champion Lakers 112-95 at Staples Center Friday night.
No surprise there.
New Orleans actually started well, very well and could have built as much as a 20-point lead if the Pelicans had any concept of how to take care of the basketball.
New Orleans had a 28-14 lead with 1:39 to play in the first quarter despite six turnovers.
The Pelicans still led 58-57 at halftime.
The Lakers ran away in the third quarter, going on a 15-0 run which snowballed into a 42-15 run to pull away as New Orleans, unsure of where to go with the ball or how to attack, simply could not score in the second half, scoring just 37 points in the final two quarters.
There were two simple numbers to point to in this one.
New Orleans committed 20 turnovers and had just 22 assists.
The Lakers had just eight turnovers and 31 assists.
With no dribble penetration, the Pelicans shot just eight free throws while the Lakers got 26 attempts.
The Pelicans are screaming out for the need of a leader, a true point guard.
Eric Bledsoe is not the answer on a long term basis, perhaps not even on a short term basis.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker followed up his brilliant performance against the Clippers with a mixed bag performance.
Alexander-Walker scored 12 points and sank 5-of-8 field goal attempts, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, very encouraging.
Then, there was the primary concern with his game.
Alexander-Walker committed five turnovers in just 20 minutes and it is not just bad passes but bad decisions.
Still, the ability Alexander-Walker has and exhibits is undeniable and he must continue to play and play heavier minutes.
Kira Lewis followed up his fine performance against the Clippers with a mixed bag performance as well.
Lewis had two assists and no turnovers in 11 minutes but he was just 2-of-8 from the field, including 0-for-3 from 3-point range.
Still, Lewis is an investment and a player that should be given a chance to perhaps fill the role of point guard.
Then, there is Lonzo Ball, who missed his second straight game with a knee problem.
Stan Van Gundy has used Ball off the ball, no pun intended, very often, letting Bledsoe run the show.
Ball will never be a good shooter, though he has improved that aspect of his game.
Ball seldom drives the ball to the painted area and, thus, seldom finishes at the rim or collapses a defense before kicking it to a shooter.
Of course, New Orleans lacks shooters, anyway.
JJ Redick was okay, making 3-of-10 from 3-point range but that is not good enough for the team’s best shooter to be shooting 30 percent, which is where he is on the season (29.5%).
New Orleans is 31st of 32 teams in 3-point percentage at 32.4% on the season.
New Orleans is 27th of 32 teams in turnovers per game, averaging 16.5 per contest.
Once again, the Pelicans got hammered from 3-point range, outscored 45-27 from beyond the arc.
Zion Williamson played with great energy after missing the game with the Clippers, scoring 21 points, pulling down 12 rebounds with four assists and a blocked shot. Brandon Ingram had 20 points and five assists but was only able to get 15 shots. Both Williamson and Ingram had four turnovers.
Nico Melli, once again, did nothing. How long will he continue to get minutes?
Jaxson Hayes played with energy, scoring eight points with four rebounds and a block but played just eight minutes.
There was a Naji Marshall sighting, as the small forward got on the floor for three minutes for New Orleans.
Anthony Davis is now 5-0 against his former team since the huge trade which sent him to the Lakers from New Orleans.
Now losers of five straight games and taking on water, the road trip continues at Sacramento Sunday.
Every team, particularly teams with younger players, must search for and find their identity.
New Orleans is still searching to shed the identity of a picture that reveals very careless with the ball and with an inability to shoot it straight.
That, quite obviously, is a poor identity, a bad combination.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…