New Orleans Pelicans revert to this bad habit in tough loss to Wizards

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

For much of the game, it looked as though the New Orleans Pelicans were going to win their second game in a row on the road against the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Wizards.

This would have been a big win for the Pelicans, who were coming off their best game of the season and looking to build a slight bit of momentum with Zion Williamson still out with an injury.

There were some promising signs in the win over Memphis, particularly the ball movement, as the Pelicans racked up 29 assists and were creating good shots in the half court.

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This has been a problem over the last few seasons, especially during “clutch” time, when the Pels have been one of the NBA’s worst teams.

A lot of this is because the New Orleans Pelicans have used too much isolation when the game slows down in the final minutes, which often leads to contested shots that are not high percentage. They go away from the ball movement that got them the lead and hand the ball to Zion or Brandon Ingram while everyone else watches.

After having a big 4th quarter in the win against the Grizzlies, the Pelicans reverted back to iso ball for a stretch against the Wizards and it cost them another game late.

New Orleans Pelicans: The Pels lost the game in the clutch

The Pelicans scored on two free throws from Brandon Ingram with just over six minutes left in the 4th quarter. This isn’t technically “clutch” time, as that is defined as the last five minutes of a close game. But this was where the mess really started.

B.I.’s free throws put the Pelicans up five and it was looking good, but here’s how the next 10 possessions went after that:

  • Devonte’ Graham misses a contested shot out of isolation after there was zero player or ball movement. Valanciunas fouls on the rebound attempt.
  • Ingram isolation for a contested mid-range miss
  • Ingram isolation for a contested mid-range miss
  • Ingram isolation for a fadeaway miss in the paint. This wasn’t a terrible shot but the ball still didn’t move for most of the possession
  • Herb Jones blocked
  • Ingram isolation for a contested mid-range miss
  • Ingram miss on short bank shot in the paint. Tough luck for Ingram here.
  • Turnover Graham
  • Valanciunas isolation for offensive foul and turnover
  • Ingram isolation for tough running miss

At this point the Wizards were leading 101-92 and the game was essentially over. The New Orleans Pelicans wouldn’t score again until there was a 1:16 left in the game, but it was already too late.

The Pelicans looked like they were trying to run out the clock with five minutes left, while the Wizards just kept scoring and making plays.

Some credit has to go to the Wizards’ defense, which did tighten up in clutch time, but the Pelicans had no ball movement and most of these plays were just guys standing around watching Ingram dribble.

The New Orleans Pelicans can’t stop running their offense late in games with a lead, as chucking up contested mid-range shots is a recipe for disaster, as they found out last night.

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