Pelicans spit the bit with poor effort in loss to Heat
In the midst of an up and down season, the Pelicans were down Sunday night. It made no sense.
With four days between games and resting and practicing at home, New Orleans should have been fresh and sharp against a Miami Heat team closing out a six-game road swing.
The Pelicans put forth one of their worst efforts of the season in all phases in a 102-96 loss to the Heat.
New Orleans had been a good home team. That is, up until this game.
Just like the first meeting in Miami, a 106-101 loss on Nov. 30, the Pelicans started miserably, falling behind from the start. They never really recovered as the Heat controlled the game from start to finish.
In the first meeting, Anthony Davis had 41 points and it wasn’t enough. He got little help as New Orleans shot just 42 percent and committed 16 turnovers.
In this meeting, Davis, inexplicably, did not even attempt a field goal in the second half until nearly halfway through the fourth quarter. How can that happen? A zone defense should never work with that efficiency in the NBA.
By the way, he made that shot, a 3-pointer. Then, he converted a traditional 3-point play to cut the deficit to 92-84. New Orleans would get within four points but got no closer.
Davis finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks. He took just 19 shots. He needs to take more. Jrue Holiday had 22 points, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Julius Randle had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
How was this game lost?
Start with effort.
Miami simply gave more, by a large margin.
The Heat destroyed the Pelicans 57-38 on the boards, including 22-11 on the offensive boards. Miami outscored New Orleans 25-16 on second chance points. They killed the Pelicans off the bench, with its reserves scoring 58 points to just 20 for the Pelicans. Miami won the first three quarters and that was enough to steal a road win.
The Heat didn’t even have to shoot it well, as a result. They won shooting 41 percent from the field. Of course, the Pelicans shot just 41 percent from the field as well. Darius Miller was a miserable 1-for-8 from 3-point range while Andrew Harrison was 1-for-6. New Orleans settled for long balls way too much as its offense was stationary, stagnant much of the way. Simply put, the Pelicans spit the bit.
Make no mistake about it. This was a bad loss, a loss to a 12-16 team at home when extremely well rested.
It is back to a game under .500 for New Orleans. This is a team treading water. Make no mistake about that. Given the depth in the Western conference, that simply will not get it done.
Now comes a four-game road trip, a tough trip, starting at Milwaukee against a very good Bucks team, continuing on to Los Angeles to face the hot Lakers, heading to Sacramento to take on the improved Kings and – after a quick stop home for Christmas – finishing up against another improved team in Dallas. Keep in mind that the Pelicans are just 4-11 on the road.
It would certainly help to get Nikola Mirotic back. The lack of length off the bench was glaring against Miami, a long team with players who can play multiple spots. It will certainly help to get Elfrid Payton back but that does not figure to happen for a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, the effort, on a game-by-game basis, must improve and improve now. Otherwise, this season is going nowhere and fast.
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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…