Pelicans.com postgame: Wolves 88, Pelicans 77
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
MINNEAPOLIS – The New Orleans Pelicans almost could've put together an impressive five-man unit Wednesday with just the players who were not in uniform. When star power forward Anthony Davis (left index finger soreness) was deemed out of action about two hours before tip-off, the Pelicans were without their first-, second-, fourth- and sixth-leading scorers this season. The group of Davis, Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith has a combined scoring average in 2013-14 of 64.2 points per game.
Playing without much of the firepower that has given New Orleans the NBA’s 10th-rated offense (107.9 points per 100 possessions) this season, the Pelicans (19-26) set various season lows at that end of the floor against the Timberwolves (23-22). New Orleans scored its fewest points in a game (the previous season low was 82) and tied the mark for first-quarter points (16) and first-half points (35).
The Pelicans were below average shooting the ball from virtually every area of the floor, connecting on just 35.4 percent of their attempts from the field and 9.5 percent of three-point tries (2-for-21). Among the few healthy Pelicans who have experience in the NBA shouldering major responsibility offensively, each player struggled. Eric Gordon, coming off a 20-point game the night before in Cleveland, was 5-for-17, while Tyreke Evans was 4-for-15. Brian Roberts was 3-for-10. Al-Farouq Aminu was the team’s most effective player, finishing with 18 points (on 8-for-13 shooting) and 12 rebounds.
“We couldn’t make a shot tonight,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said. “(The Timberwolves) packed the paint and Eric didn’t have his best stuff tonight. B Rob didn’t have his best stuff. Tyreke missed a lot of shots around the basket.”
Despite a forgettable offensive performance virtually team-wide, New Orleans was within striking distance for much of the night. The Timberwolves used a late first-half push to go up 47-35 at intermission, but the Pelicans worked their way back into it quickly in the third quarter. By the end of the period, New Orleans has sliced its deficit to just 67-62.
Partly behind a personal 6-0 run by All-Star power forward Kevin Love (30 points, 14 rebounds), Minnesota regained control early in the fourth quarter and kept its guests at arm’s length over the final 10 minutes, leading by at least nine points for the duration.
“The rhythm was off from the jump,” Roberts said of the Pelicans, who took 3:59 to score their first points and never led. “We didn’t have our best stuff and you have to give credit to (Minnesota).”
“I thought our defense was pretty good to hold a team like that to whatever they shot from the field,” said Greg Stiemsma, who moved into the starting lineup at power forward for Davis and collected 12 rebounds. “Our defense was alright, but it was one of those nights where we couldn’t get it going offensively.”