Pelicans vs. Lakers Postgame Quotes 5-16-21 | 2020-21 NBA
New Orleans Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy and Pelicans players recap the team's season finale against the Los Angeles Lakers on May 16, 2021 at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans fell 110-98 to the Lakers and finished the 2020-21 NBA season with a 31-41 record.
Pelicans Head Coach Stan Van Gundy
On his assessment of his first season with the Pelicans:
“There is some good and some bad. We came a long way defensively…from next-to-last in the league before the All-Star break…I don’t know what it ended up, but for most of the time until we got guys hurt, we were the top-seven or eight defensive team in the second-half of the year. That is a tremendous improvement and I felt good about that. I think that one of the biggest things is – and as a coach you certainly look at yourself, because you can look at every single play, but particularly the second half of the year – our inability to win the close games [was a big one]. We lost games that were decided either in overtime or by three points or fewer, or one possession games. We were in ten of them and lost eight of them. As a coach you are going to question every single decision that you made down the stretch in every one of those games. That was a big, big frustration, and then the other thing I think is we had long stretches of games where we were an outstanding offensive team. As I said, in the second half of the year we had long stretches of games where we were an outstanding defensive team. We never really, for any stretch of games in the year, of any length of time did we put together offense and defense. We were either playing really good offense and really bad defense, or really good defense and pretty bad offense. I guess the positive of that is that we can go in and certainly show them – as we get into next year, we can certainly show them what we look like playing good offense, as good as anyone in the league, and we can show them what we look like playing really good defense. That is the positive, but somehow, we have to find a way to put it all together, and I clearly must do a better job at the end of close games and so do they. Become more disciplined, make better decisions…so we all have a long way to go. I think as a coach, quite honestly, I am not happy. I think that, in terms of a record, we should have had a better year and so as coach you are not going to feel good about that, and I am pretty self-critical. I will outline a lot of areas that I think that we need to get better and we will start attacking those. How I would characterize my first year? Some things were good, but overall I need to do a lot better job.”
On his postgame message to the team:
“I just told them I appreciated the way they hung together and supported each other throughout the year.”
Pelicans Center Willy Hernangómez
On not giving up down the stretch and battling in all the games late in the season:
"I mean, I think this team has been amazing all year. We had some important guys out with injury, so it was just another opportunity for other guys. Everybody was working really hard, did all year. I think everybody shows up ready to play; not just today, all season. So, I think like coach said a couple times, one of the positive things about this group is the resiliency we have. Even tough losses, even with a lot of guys out, we kept fighting, kept believing in us. So something really good, something special, and I'm really excited to be around those guys."
On getting extended minutes to show what he can do:
"I mean, I'm really, really happy with the season. I'm really happy with the opportunity that I had. I'm going to be truly honest, it was really hard for me. You know I’ve got to be a little patient, but I bet on myself, I tried to work hard. I tried to always keep a smile and keep believing in myself, and keep listening to my teammates, my coaches, and Stan (Van Gundy). At some point I knew my opportunity would come, so I just tried to use it, play hard, and have fun. I'm just really happy to be around these teammates, this group of guys, the front office. Everybody was amazing. You guys too, and it's how I felt from the beginning. You guys are my family, and my teammates too."
Pelicans Guard Kira Lewis Jr.
On how he would summarize his season and what he learned:
"It was a good year, learned a lot. It was one of the toughest years obviously, with COVID and all that, but everybody taught me along the way from when I first got here…on the court, off the court, how to take care of my body, training. I learned a lot, and I just can't wait to instill everything I learned from this past year and what I learn in the offseason going into next year."