The New Orleans Pelicans suffered a frustrating 123-118 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder despite Zion’s career-high 32 points.
The New Orleans Pelicans were hoping to carry the momentum of four straight wins into the All-Star break, but they ran into a scrappy, professional Thunder team that did all of the little things right. The Thunder half court defense was stifling at times, leading to 17 Pelicans’ turnovers that translated into 24 points. Surprisingly, the largely half court Thunder even won the fast break points 19-10, most of which came off Pelicans’ turnovers.
The Pelicans hung in and kept it close throughout, mostly behind the low-post brilliance of Zion Williamson and some timely, but streaky shooting from J.J. Redick. The game came down to turnovers, points in the paint and the Pelicans being unable to stop the pick-and-roll. Chris Paul racked up 12 assists, running the PNR with Danilo Gallinari, who ended the game with 29 points.
It was a game of runs, of brilliant plays and mistakes. Here are the player grades for the Pelican’s heartbreaking loss to the Thunder.
Lonzo Ball: B-
No one is more emblematic of the Pelicans’ up and down night than Ball, who had one of his best shooting nights, going five for eight from three-point range, but also had four turnovers. Ball had a few spectacular passes, particularly with Jrue Holiday working off the ball. But Ball also had a few mental lapses, sloppy passes and plays when he tried to do too much. Ball ended the game with 16 points, five assists and six rebounds, but his turnovers were costly and led to Thunder runs that eventually put the Pelicans away.
Frank Jackson: B+
Jackson ended with five points in only five minutes. He came into the game, promptly threw an alley-oop to Williamson, hit a corner three-pointer and then left the game. Jackson has been solid in the last few games and may have earned himself more playing time with accurate shooting and passing.