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Pelicans HC Stan Van Gundy calls out Lonzo Ball and his teammates’ defensive mistakes after OT loss to Knicks

STan Van Fundy, Pelicans, Lonzo Ball, Knicks

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy has never been afraid to call out his young squad. Whether it be Zion Williamson’s or Brandon Ingram’s defensive efforts earlier in the season, no one on the Pels roster is safe from SVG’s criticism.

Lonzo Ball is the latest to be on the receiving end of some Van Gundy shade. Following the Pelicans’ overtime loss to the New York Knicks on national television, the head coach criticized the fourth-year guard’s defensive effort in OT.

SVG recognizes the weight of these mistakes. For a Pelicans squad that can ill afford such miscalculations, he minced no words in describing the kind of effort and focus necessary to chase the first postseason appearance of the Zion Williamson era.

 

While many consider Ball to be having his best professional season to date in 2021–including on the defensive end–New Orleans is in no position to make game-changing mistakes in close game situations. And while the burden of team defense can’t fall on one player, allowing Derrick Rose 23 points, his highest point total since being traded to the Knicks from the Detroit Pistons, does place blame on Ball directly. Letting up such performances at this point in the season can have insurmountable consequences for the Pels.

The Pelicans currently sit at 11th in the Western Conference standings, a whole three games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the final spot of the play-in tournament, the most realistic path to a playoff berth this late in the season. New Orleans only has 15 games to catch up to the Spurs and rank eighth in remaining strength of schedule, per Tankathon.