New Orleans Pelicans: Good, Bad, and (Not) Ugly from Win Over Spurs

Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images)
Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans overcame poor shooting to beat the San Antonio Spurs last night. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly.

The New Orleans Pelicans eeked out a win despite shooting like a mid-’90s team all night. The good news is what powered the Pels to a win is repeatable while their awful shooting shouldn’t happen again any time soon.

Head coach Stan Van Gundy will be pleased with his team’s defensive performance, which held all but one Spur below 20 points. This is a good sign after an up and down start on that end in the first two games.

Related Story. Grades for 98-95 win over the San Antonio Spurs. light

There were some good things, some bad things and some (not so) ugly things for the Pelicans in their win over the Spurs.

New Orleans Pelicans: The Good, bad and ugly from win over Spurs

The Good

Pelicans Team Defense

It’s not often a team will win while shooting just 38 percent from the floor these days. That poor shooting night put the Pels in a hole early and it seemed we could be in for a long night. That was until the defense led by new Pelican Steven Adams got timely stops in the second quarter to keep a lid on a pot that was seemingly ready to boil over.

The win tonight really started when Adams checked back in with 8:30 to play in the second quarter and the Pels trailing by four. What came next wasn’t some crazy pyrotechnic affair but just rather solid team defense. New Orleans didn’t cause many turnovers or block many shots for the rest of the quarter.

Instead, Adams got his teammates to hunker down and defend like crazy, starting with energy. The goal of team defense isn’t to cause turnovers or block shots, sure those are outcomes that can happen from playing good defense, but the goal on that end is to force your opponent into shots they’re uncomfortable taking. If a team can do this more times than not, they’ll get the opponent to start shooting themselves out of the game.

That’s not to say the New Orleans Pelicans didn’t force the issue upon San Antonio. By hustling for rebounds and playing smart team defense the Pels were able to create easy baskets on offense.

Adams fights for the rebound beyond the three-point line and from there he can push the ball in transition. Josh Hart and Eric Bledsoe run with Adams so that there are options for the big man to pass to. Hart fills the lane, gets a bounce pass from Adams, and lays it in while getting fouled. He makes the free throw to convert the and one. The Pels get everything they could want from a big man on that possession.

If the intensity from last night can continue game to game, New Orleans will be tough to attack.

The Bad

Pelicans Three-Point Shooting

The bad is this two-game stretch from the outside shooting department for the Pels. New Orleans shot just 20.8% (5-24) from beyond the arc last night. The Pels had three returning players finish in the top 68 players by three-point percentage last season (JJ Redick 2nd, Brandon Ingram 38th, and Lonzo Ball 68th). Combined those three were 3-16 from deep last night with Redick not hitting a single outside shot.

It’s not even that a lot of those misses came on tightly contested heaves late in the shot clock either. Quite a few were the exact kind of wide-open looks you hope to generate on drive and kicks by BI. If these high percentage chances don’t start getting converted the Pelicans will be in trouble.

These slumps will correct themselves eventually when it comes to Redick, the other two however weren’t exactly lighting the nets on fire before last season. If they continue to slump there’s a chance the confidence both gained last year will start to slip away.

I’m not too worried though, New Orleans has played against three of the better defensive teams in the league to start the season. Those shots will start falling soon enough.

light. Related Story. 5 Pelicans most likely to be traded before the deadline

The (Not) Ugly

Pull-Up Two’s

Some fans may not like this shot because it’s anti-analytic but these are the exact shots a good defense is going to give you late in a close game. The two guys on this Pels roster that needed to start taking and making these exact shots are doing just that. Brandon Ingram needs to add this shot to his repertoire to become a legit all-around offensive threat, with this shot teams will need to send double teams more often.

He’s doing just that, I’ve attached a link to both teams shot charts from basketball-reference. If you look at just Ingram you’ll notice a trail of shots just outside the paint and clustered around the elbows for BI. He finished the night 4-9 between the paint and arc, which is a solid performance.

My biggest knock on Lonzo going into this season was that he needed to show more of an offensive game than just passing and hitting three’s. He too has started to take the pull-up from mid-range. Just like BI’s shot chart, Lonzo is taking real shots from inside the arc (he finished 3-3).

If these attempts are the signs of a more well rounded offensive game from two of the New Orleans Pelicans’ young core, we will all be in for fireworks shows later in the season when everything starts to click. Sure it wasn’t pretty but a win is a win and I’ll take ’em any way they come.

Next. 4 trades that could upgrade the bench. dark