Pelicans.com postgame: Wolves 124, Pelicans 112
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
MINNEAPOLIS – Some would say that momentum is meaningless in the NBA, that the result of one game doesn’t matter one iota when the next game tips off and the score goes back to 0-0. Rarely has that been more the case than the New Orleans Pelicans’ week so far. On Monday, the Pelicans posted their best victory of 2013-14, edging the red-hot Portland Trail Blazers in a two-point thriller. Two nights later, the Pelicans were dominated by the Minnesota Timberwolves, falling behind by as many as 30 points in arguably their poorest performance of 2013-14.
Minnesota (16-16) began pulling away from New Orleans (14-16) in the second quarter, using a 28-19 edge to go up 61-47 by halftime. The Timberwolves built their 30-point lead midway through the third quarter and threatened triple digits by the end of the period at 97-73.
One of the NBA’s best teams at protecting the ball this season, the Pelicans had an uncharacteristically sloppy offensive night. New Orleans committed 16 first-half turnovers, helping ignite the Minnesota attack. The Pelicans’ previous high for a game was 17 turnovers, but they surpassed that Wednesday with 18.
“Turning the ball over killed us,” said Anthony Davis (13 points, six rebounds). “You can’t expect to win a game with that many turnovers.”
“We know they like to gamble and reach for the ball,” said Tyreke Evans (16 points, seven rebounds) of the Timberwolves. “We knew that was going to happen; we just didn’t capitalize on that in the game. Turnovers hurt us.”
New Orleans also allowed its most points in regulation of the 2013-14 season. The previous Pelicans opponent high was 116 (Chicago scored 128 points vs. New Orleans on Dec. 2, but that came in a triple-overtime loss for the Bulls).
“Minnesota came out stronger and they wanted it more than us,” Evans said. “They got in the paint. When they got in the paint, they made us scramble and got whatever they wanted, whether it was a three-pointer or Kevin Love ducking in or (Nikola) Pekovic, or Ricky Rubio getting layups. We didn’t do a good job of stopping the ball.”
The Timberwolves moved a full game ahead of the Pelicans in the standings behind a forceful all-around performance. Seven Minnesota players reached double figures, headed by Pekovic’s 22, Love’s 21 and Kevin Martin’s 20. The hosts shot a scorching 55.7 percent.
Instead of following up on Monday’s exciting home victory over Portland, New Orleans continued its season-long struggles on the road, particularly against Western Conference foes. The Pelicans are just 2-10 in other West arenas this season. In New Orleans, they’ve won four straight games.
“At home, we do a great job of talking and doing everything we’re supposed to do,” Davis said. “On the road, it seems like it disappears. We’ve got to bring that same energy and effort on the road.”
“I’ve got to figure out a way to get them to play at a consistent manner every time we step on the floor,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said of the swing in outcomes from Monday to Wednesday. “Youth, all that stuff, is part of it, but it can’t be an excuse. I’ve got to get the guys to understand how important every possession and every game is.”