Pels load up in easy win over load-managed Warriors
The NBA has a problem. It is nothing new but a continuing problem.
What has been termed as “load management” is a load of, well, you know what to fans and enthused observers of the league, even media members.
The concept reared its ugly head Monday night at Smoothie King Center.
The upside is that the Pelicans easily won a game against defending NBA champion Golden State 128-83.
To put things in perspective, it was the second largest victory in franchise history.
Of course, the Warriors that took the floor on this night were a distant comparison to the world championship team of last season.
There was no Steph Curry.
There was no Klay Thompson.
There was no Draymond Green.
There was no Andrew Wiggins.
There wasn’t even Andre Iguodala.
The Pelicans were without Trey Murphy III but welcomed the return of Zion Williamson.
This one was so easy that the Pelicans went to the end of their bench with over seven minutes left in the game for Willy Hernangomez, Jaxson Hayes and Garrett Temple.
By game’s end, it was near the equivalent of a G League game, not quite a Summer League game but not very far from it.
This one was over early.
New Orleans went on a 17-1 run in the first quarter to bolt out to a 35-16 lead. Brandon Ingram scored 13 points.
Golden State played a lot of zone in the first half.
It did not matter.
The Pelicans pulled out to a 65-41 lead by halftime. Ingram finished the half with 20 points while the New Orleans bench contributed 25 points. Jose Alvarado played with his usual energy and efficiency with eight points and three assists.
Williamson struggled, making just 1 of 4 field goal attempts while committing two turnovers and scoring just three points.
The lead grew to 97-65 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was an afterthought.
Ingram finished with 34 points in 31 minutes while Devonte Graham had 19 points off the bench, including making a season high 6 of 11 from 3-point range. In his return, Williamson had nine points in 23 minutes.
New Orleans reserves scored 57 points.
It was the second time Golden State played in New Orleans this season without its stars.
On November 4, the Warriors, short-handed, competed well in a 114-105 loss despite playing without Curry, Thompson, Green, Wiggins and Iguodala, same as tonight.
They did not compete nearly as well tonight.
Many fans who purchased tickets with the purpose of seeing Curry, Thompson and company have left Smoothie King Center disappointed twice now.
It is a delicate subject.
With a grueling 82-game schedule, coaches have to manage their teams and players the best they can, trying to keep them healthy, trying to keep them fresh.
The league clearly does not like its stars sitting, home or away.
League coaches, and some players, have suggested shortening the season from 82 games to 70 or 72 games.
That would certainly eliminate the frequent back-to-back contests, killers for virtually any team.
This was the second of a back-to-back for the Warriors.
Steve Kerr did what he thought was best for his team.
There is no doubt that he is right.
It is a wrong for the league, though, a wrong that will be hard to make right.
At least the Pelicans, now 10-7 ended up on the right side of the result.
Now, it is on to San Antonio Wednesday and Memphis Friday for a couple of division games.
The Pelicans should manage to be a load for the young Spurs, pun intended.
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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…