Here’s the good and bad from the New Orleans Pelicans’ second scrimmage.
But they still ran out 13 players overall, giving the reserves most of the run while the regulars watched from the stands.
It was a very strange game, as Denver only had eight players and just about all of them were seven-footers.
They had Nikola Jokic running the point, 7-foot-2 Bol Bol at small forward and probably played their starters far longer than they would have liked in a scrimmage game.
With the Pelicans’ starters mostly taking the game off, it was a night to see what the bench could do and the Pelicans looked both talented and deep in that department. Alvin Gentry is going to have some difficult decisions with his rotations, especially once everyone is back.
A couple of fringe players made a case for themselves, the shot selection was better overall and it was mostly all positive after the New Orleans Pelicans first “home” win in the bubble.
Here are some positives and negatives from the win over Denver.
Small Ball vs. The Godzilla Lineup
The Pelicans are unlikely to ever face a lineup as tall as the one they faced last night, which featured a starting five with no one under 6-foot-8. Denver’s Godzilla lineup did provide some matchup problems but overall the Pelicans have to be excited about what they saw.
The Good: The Pelicans went small against this giant lineup and it worked. They jumped out to big leads early, pushed the pace and essentially ran the bigger Nuggets out of the gym.
The Nuggets were unable to really make the Pelicans pay in the post and after the first half the Pelicans actually had more points in the paint than the Godzilla lineup.
Both Jrue Holiday and Frank Jackson played well against point guard Jokic, who ended the night just shy of a triple double, but was locked up by Holiday early on. Small ball is going to be a weapon for the Pelicans, especially once they get Zion Williamson back and can unleash its full potential.
The Bad: Obviously this was an unusual game against a team with only eight players, but having your starting two guard defending the other team’s center is not ideal. It worked last night in stretches but over the course of an entire game, Holiday is going to get worn down, into foul trouble and eventually punished down low.
Gentry needs to find a way to slow down bigger teams without completely relying on Holiday to guard someone twice his size. It can work in bursts, and the Pels are unlikely to face another team like Denver this season, but small ball does have its limits, especially against LeBron James and the Lakers.