The New Orleans Pelicans gave away a winnable game against the Utah Jazz.
If the New Orleans Pelicans slept last night, it couldn’t have been well after blowing a big lead in the first real game in the bubble.
The Pelicans were up by as many as 16 points in the first half, the bench was rolling and it looked like they were going to run away with an easy victory.
Then the Jazz figured out what most other teams eventually do against the Pelicans, which is that they have no rim protection.
The Pels gave up 56 points in the paint, which is atrocious, even worse than their 53.1 average, which is 28th in the NBA.
There were a lot of positives overall, but also some head-scratching substitutions by Alvin Gentry, some awful play by Derrick Favors and a starting point guard who couldn’t make a shot.
The player grades for game 1 against the Utah Jazz will reflect the inconsistency of the New Orleans Pelicans, which is what eventually cost them a close, winnable game.
FRANK JACKSONPoint Guard, New Orleans Pelicans
Jackson only played four minutes but there is a strong argument he should have played more. The Pelicans were having trouble stopping the dribble penetration of Jordan Clarkson and could have at least given someone else a chance at it. Gentry was far too stringent with his rotations and didn’t react to what was happening, but we’ll have more on that later.
LONZO BALLPoint Guard, New Orleans Pelicans
Lonzo couldn’t make a shot last night, that much was clear, but he did take it to the rim aggressively, had a good night passing the ball, grabbed some rebounds and had a couple of steals. Lonzo was good at getting into passing lanes for deflections and had a couple of nice moments on the defensive end. Unfortunately, they didn’t carry over to the other side of the court.
He bricked both of his free throw attempts and had three turnovers in a game he’ll be trying to forget for a long time. Lonzo went 2-13 on a night when they were having a hard time finding points down the stretch. Lonzo never looked comfortable shooting the ball last night and the Jazz did a good job of limiting his looks. Some of this is down to coaching as well, as the Pelicans really didn’t run much pick-and-roll with Ball, which had been working well before play was suspended.
No one will take this loss harder than Lonzo, who will be keen to get back on track against the Clippers.