Last night’s frustrating loss could be a turning point for head coach Willie Green and the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Pels blew a 24-point lead and allowed Devin Booker to pour in 58 points as the Suns came roaring back to win the game. This was a chance for the Pelicans to win the season series against their rival, but instead they dropped their third in a row after a seven-game win streak.
The Pels are still alone in second place in the Western Conference, so this hasn’t been catastrophic, and you can’t overreact to any one loss (now matter how gut wrenching) in an NBA season that is a marathon, not a sprint.
How the Pelicans respond to this loss will tell us a lot about this team, so this will be a moment of the season to mark on the calendar.
It was also a milestone for the normally reserved Willie Green, who wasn’t happy after the game and had plenty to say about the free-throw disparity.
New Orleans Pelicans: Willie Green calls out the refs
Willie Green is not normally a coach to call out the referees, but that appeared to be what he was doing in the post-game press conference when speaking about the 35 to 13 disparity in free throws:
Zion Williamson undoubtedly gets a different whistle than any other player in the NBA, as the refs seem confused about what exactly is a foul, a confusion they did not have when putting Devin Booker on the line for 15 free-throw attempts, two more than the New Orleans Pelicans took as a team.
But I think he was also calling out his own team, as the Pelicans were not aggressive enough offensively in the second half and allowed the Suns to keep chiseling away at the lead before eventually losing the game.
You can’t coast in the NBA, now matter how big the lead is, which is exactly what seemed to happen last night. It looked like the Pelicans were going to roll to an easy victory, but against good teams, there is really no such thing.
Even the best teams suffer bad losses in the course of an 82-game season and are defined by how they come back from them, so we are about to see what the New Orleans Pelicans are made of tomorrow against the Milwaukee Bucks.