Pelicans fail miserably early, never recover in loss to Warriors
Entering its biggest game of the year, the New Orleans Pelicans had to be ready to play, jacked up and motivated at home.
That’s what you would think, correct?
The Pelicans came out and played like anything but a determined, focused team early and never quite recovered Monday night against Golden State.
The Kentucky Derby just took place last Saturday and a frontrunner held off opponents to win the Run for the Roses.
Monday night, the Warriors jumped out of the starting gate quickly as a frontrunner and led from wire to wire in a 123-108 victory in the first of two games between the two teams in New Orleans.
How do you explain the start and the early effort?
How can you explain Lonzo Ball?
The decision to try to keep Ball and make a massive investment in him remains one of the burning and most difficult, even controversial questions facing New Orleans management.
Coming off of his best game with a career high 33 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and three steals in a 140-136 overtime victory at Minnesota, Ball turned in one of his worst performances, if not his worst of the season in the most important game of the season.
Ball scored just seven points in 38 minutes.
Ball took 18 shots and made just three. He was 1-for-9 from three-point range. New Orleans had no shot to win with those numbers.
The Pelicans committed six turnovers in the first quarter and allowed the Warriors to shoot 58.3 percent from the field to fall way behind at 39-21. Starting guards Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe combined to go scoreless in the quarter. Zion Williams was the offense in the quarter with 10 points.
The lead grew to 25 points but the Pelicans closed the half well and cut the deficit to 66-54 by halftime as Williamson had 18 points and Brandon Ingram had 11 points. New Orleans shot just 40.8 percent from the field in the half, including just 3-of-13 (16.7%) from three-point range. The Pelicans finished the half with nine turnovers. Ball was 1-for-11 from the field in the half.
Stephen Curry had 21 points in the half while Andrew Wiggins had 14 for the Warriors, who shot 53.2 percent from the field (25-of-47).
After New Orleans pulled within six points at 79-73 in the third quarter, Golden State pulled away again to lead 95-80 going to the fourth quarter.
Curry scored 15 points in the quarter while Williamson had just three points in the third quarter.
Williamson did all he could to keep his team in the game with 33 points and eight rebounds.
With the Warriors determined to take Ingram away, the other Pelicans star got off just 11 shots and scored 19 points, making 8-of-8 free throws.
Eric Bledsoe had 11 points but was a non-factor while Billy Hernangomez scored 10 points.
The bench, outside of always tough Naji Marshall, was invisible. Marshall had 12 points and six rebounds and, as always, competed hard on the defensive end. Jaxson Hayes did score nine points but most of it was in garbage time, with the outcome decided.
New Orleans shot just 43 percent from the field, including 20 percent (5-of-25) from three-point range.
Curry torched New Orleans for 41 points, including eight three-pointers. Wiggins finished with 26 points. Golden State outscored New Orleans 51-25 from three-point range. There was your game.
The Warriors shared the ball with 31 assists while New Orleans did not and had just 20 assists. Golden State had 23 fast break points to just 14 for the Pelicans. New Orleans finished with 17 turnovers.
New Orleans is now 29-36 with seven games remaining and another game with the Warriors on Tuesday night. New Orleans is now four games behind the Warriors with just seven games to play.
Following Tuesday night’s game with the Warriors, the Pelicans face a five-game road trip.
There is still a glimmer of hope to catch Golden State and even San Antonio but based on what you saw Monday night and, for that matter, what you have seen all season long, do you really have confidence that can happen?
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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…