Young players show well in Pelicans’ preseason loss at Timberwolves

  • icon
  • icon
  • icon
  • icon

The unofficial debut of the New Orleans Pelicans took place Monday night in Minneapolis.

For the record, the Minnesota Timberwolves edged the Pelicans 117-114.

New Orleans started slowly and sloppily, committing 15 turnovers in the first half, looking the part of a team playing its first game.

Fortunately, the Pelicans limited their second half turnovers to six but 21 is too high, of course.

The Pelicans made a strong run in the fourth quarter and even had a shot for the tie and overtime but Trey Murphy III had his last second shot blocked, preserving the win for Minnesota.

At one point, the Pelicans trailed by 24 points and the Pelicans trailed by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter

The ground made up was by reserves, not starters, who were mostly lethargic and careless with the basketball.

After playing with high energy, Jaxson Hayes left the game with a left ankle sprain, departing with eight points and five rebounds. He must be healthy but he could be ready for a breakout season.

Jonas Valanciunas did not play due to a sprained thumb and, of course, Zion Williamson was out with his foot injury.

Herb Jones will defend, just as he did at Alabama. Jones scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter, when the Pelicans made a run with a young lineup.

Brandon Ingram scored, as expected, putting up 14 points while only attempting one 3-pointer but Ingram committed four turnovers.

Devonte’ Graham scored nine points and had a pair of 3-pointers but committed four turnovers.

Naji Marshall contributed his typical, consistent, workmanlike performance with nine points and seven rebounds. Marshall is a sound, two-way player who plays with confidence of a veteran.

Of course, the brightest spot was the play of Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Josh Hart did his typically fine rebounding job with seven boards.

Kira Lewis Jr. finished with nine points and two assists.

Alexander-Walker and rookie Trey Murphy III opened eyes.

Alexander-Walker pumped in 22 points in just over 20 minutes of action and added three assists with just one turnover. His take-charge style was evident as he had the look of a leader, a welcome sight.

Murphy gives the Pelicans a legitimate 3-point shooter with great range. He finished with 21 points, making 6-of-10 from deep.

The Pelicans will play their lone home preseason game Wednesday night against Orlando at 7 p.m. at Smoothie King Center.

The young players (Alexander-Walker, Hayes, Jones, Lewis, Marshall, Murphy) showed well and that is very encouraging.

First impressions were a mixed bag but there was lots to like from a team with a better roster than a year ago (if healthy) and with many options for new coach Willie Green, whose toughest job will be parceling out minutes and settling on a nine or 10-man rotation with as many as 14 players capable of being part of that rotation.

  • < PREV Hardwood to Gridiron: Basketball players who ended up in the NFL
  • NEXT > 2021 Season Final Stats: Southeast Louisiana products in MLB, MiLB

Ken Trahan

CEO/Owner

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…

Read more >