New Orleans Pelicans Grades: Pelicans Fail to Capitalize Versus Heat

Mar 15, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins (0) reacts after receiving a technical foul during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 15, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins (0) reacts after receiving a technical foul during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Orleans Pelicans could not get a win against the Miami Heat last night and could have blown a huge opportunity in the playoff chase.

The New Orleans Pelicans traveled to Miami, after having blown out the Portland Trailblazers the night before.

New Orleans just turned in their best all around performance since the blockbuster trade. It looked as if the Portland game could be the turning point for this team.

That joy was short-lived.

Instead what resulted was another road loss that is reminiscent of what fans have become accustomed to seeing all year. Poor offensive execution late and sloppy turnovers did New Orleans in.

But to the Pelicans credit, they battled Miami all night, despite being on the second night of a back to back. Also, it is worth noting that the Heat were well rested and and are a surprisingly good team.

Overall it was a back and forth affair, and Miami was able to make big shots down the stretch to close it out.

120. 110. 112. 69. Final

New Orleans Pelicans. JRUE HOLIDAY. D. Jrue Holiday was completely out-matched by Goran Dragic. The usually reliable Jrue struggled on both ends to make an impact on the game. With Dragic being one of the teams key components on both sides of the ball, you need better play from him. Too many times he would go under a screen and allow Dragic a wide open three. Or he would put himself in a bad defensive stance, allowing Dragic to probe the paint with ease. Offensively, he did not attack the rim enough and put pressure on Dragic to defend. Jrue was settling for a lot of jumpers and they were not falling tonight. On a positive note, he only had one turnover and he’s been relatively clean with the ball lately. Progress?. PG

WAYNE SELDEN JR.. C. The C is for Congratulations on his first career field goal in the NBA! In just his second career NBA game and start. Congratulations sir! Other than that, the rookie did not do much else. He only played 13 minutes and took a measly two shots. Hard to criticize the guy too hard. On a side note, I hope he sticks around. Wayne Selden has three and D potential written all over him. Will he pan it out? Probably not, but worth giving it a go.. SG. New Orleans Pelicans

F. Oh Solomon Hill. The positive: He was not the worst contract in the off-season and actually played good defense on Miami’s wing players. The negative is everything else. At this point in the season, its clear that Solomon Hill is not a starting caliber player. A useful one? Sure, but he’s playing above his role. Hill followed up a very good game against the Portland Trailblazers with another stinker performance, going 1-7 from the field and 0- 2 from three. Hill even managed four turnovers and I’m not sure how, considering how little he’s asked to handle the ball.. F. New Orleans Pelicans. SOLOMON HILL

A-. Anthony Davis finished with 27 points, but never felt truly dominant in this game. His point total was aided by his 18 free throw attempts, as he only shot 7-17 from the field. Now, AD was battling all night inside. He was working hard on the defensive end of the floor. Offensively, he relentlessly attacked the Heat’s smaller players and it resulted in ALOT of free throws. His free throws helped keep the Pelicans in the game. It was nice to see him attack and get to the line, when his jump-shot’s not falling. I hope this is something AD goes to more often.. PF. New Orleans Pelicans. ANTHONY DAVIS

B+. Boogie Cousins finished with 19 points on 8-17 shooting, including 2-3 from beyond the arc. Despite the solid shooting numbers, Cousins was far from dominant. He picked up another technical foul and then immediately after picking up said technical, he committed an offensive foul. Cousins also committed two live ball turnovers, when he tried to crossover against backup Miami Heat Center Willie Reed. Now of course it was not all bad for DeMarcus. He bullied Miami Heat defenders in the post (namely Luke Babbitt) and played some tremendous defense at the start of the 4th. This loss is hardly on him, but Pelicans fans are still waiting on that dominating performance that frequently occurred in Sacramento. As the chemistry between the team and Cousins continues to grow, expect big performances to close out the season. Cousins was top of the league in usage when he came to New Orleans, so these things take time. Be Patient.. C. New Orleans Pelicans. DEMARCUS COUSINS

E’Twaun Moore was on fire in the 4th quarter. Matching Wayne Ellington bucket for bucket to keep the Pelicans in the game. Moore was creating space on his shots all game, as Heat defenders continually allowed him to get to his spots on the floor. The result was Moore erupting for 18 points on 8-12 shooting. And that is with him only making one three pointer. Just a game that served as a reminder that Moore is a good player, but he just doesn’t showcase this ability consistently enough.. SG/SF. New Orleans Pelicans. E'TWAUN MOORE. A-

F. New Orleans Pelicans. DANTE CUNNINGHAM. B-. Dante Cunningham is a pro. Nothing more to it. Against the Heat, Dante did what he does best and that is move off the ball to find easy buckets. Cunningham finished with 11 points on 5-7 shooting and had his usual array of cuts and corner threes. Cunningham was active on both ends all night against Miami and it showed with him being one of only two players with a positive plus-minus rating.

C. “Instant Grits” scored in double figures again, but it did not carry the same weight as his previous performances. Still, hard to get mad at a 10-day guy, whose giving you double digit scoring off the bench and two made three pointers. Not his best Pelicans performance, but Crawford was bound to come back to Earth at some point.. G. New Orleans Pelicans. JORDAN CRAWFORD

D. The Tim Frazier from the beginning of the season is gone and not likely to return. Besides the occasional great pass, he’s nothing more than a fringe player. His defense is too poor to play consistently and his jump-shot is to unreliable to trust offensively. Against Miami, he did nothing to spark the bench and his perimeter defense was sub-par at best.. PG. New Orleans Pelicans. TIM FRAIZER

New Orleans Pelicans. ALEXIS AJINCA. INC. Alexis Ajinca provided quality minutes in his limited time. Most of it was due to DeMarcus Cousins first half foul trouble, but he looked decent enough to garner the highest plus-minus rating of any Pelican. Nothing to look deep into though, as minutes will be hard to come by as long as Boogie and Davis are healthy.. C

Final Thoughts:

Every loss at this stage pretty much nails the Pelicans playoff hopes shut. With Houston traveling to town on Friday, this game was a must-win to keep the slim hopes alive. Still, there is plenty to watch for the rest of the season, as the team tries to identify the best way to build around Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins going forward.