Column: Pelicans take one step forward, one step backward

Stan Van Gundy is now in charge of the Pelicans. (Source: New Orleans Pelicans)
Stan Van Gundy is now in charge of the Pelicans. (Source: New Orleans Pelicans)(New Orleans Pelicans)
Updated: Jan. 31, 2021 at 12:11 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - What was a roller coaster of a weekend with the Pelicans ended with a reminder that this team is still very much a work in progress.

Friday night against Milwaukee was an example of their upside, where they scored 68 points in the first half, held the Bucks to 45 in the first half, and managed to hang on down the stretch to end.

The problem is, they had to “hang on.” Despite a 29-point lead, the Pelicans allowed Milwaukee to get back within single digits, and if it weren’t for some very timely threes, the Bucks could’ve completed the comeback.

As head coach Stan Van Gundy pointed out, it took 21 threes, a franchise record, to win, because the defense fell apart, again, during the final 18 minutes of the game. And as the weekend unfolded, we see that that type of offense is simply not realistic.

Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe combined for 14 threes on Friday night and were a big part in propelling the Pelicans to the win. On Saturday against Houston, they were a combined three of 14 beyond the arc. Without playing defense, the Pelicans will never find consistency because they’re not a team that will consistently have huge nights from three point land.

In fact, between the second half against Milwaukee and the first half against Houston, the Pelicans allowed 156 points.

At some point, maybe the Pelicans will fully commit to defense, but it may not be this exact roster and rotation that does it. Stan Van Gundy has become a broken record on repeat over the last few weeks, calling for more individual effort on defense, and yet, very little has changed.

Speaking on Saturday’s broadcast, executive vice president David Griffin preached patience for the roster, since technically the seventh and 14th place teams in the West are separated by just a few games.

But sooner or later, if things continue to stay the same, from bad defense to bad results in the win/loss column, a shake-up to the roster might be the only thing that can spark a change.

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