Zion Williamson and Co. have to work on their biggest weakness to become winners
The New Orleans Pelicans dropped their second game to the Utah Jazz in three nights after losing again on Thursday, 129-118. It largely felt like the same old story. Following their ninth loss of the season, Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy called out the team’s defensive effort, stressing about how they need to get much better on that end of the floor.
Via Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com:
Stan Van Gundy on #Pelicans defense: "We can't give up this number of points and have any chance at having a good season. We're going to have to develop a much, much, much, much, much, much better defensive mentality and pride than we have right now."
— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) January 22, 2021
The Pelicans have now lost seven of their last eight games. New Orleans lost by 16 points a couple of nights before after they gave up 21 three-pointers to a red-hot Jazz squad. On Friday, the Pelicans failed to make any significant adjustments, as Utah still connected on 17 of their 39 attempts from beyond the arc.
On the season, the Pelicans give up 110.9 points per game to opposing team, which ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack across the NBA. New Orleans, however, just ranks 22nd in defensive rating through the early goings of the season.
Furthermore, they also give up the most 3-pointers in the entire league in terms of both makes and attempts per contest. And it’s not like they’re defending the three well, either. Their opponents are shooting over 38 percent from long distance on the season, which ranks well above the league average.
Stan Van Gundy already spoke about how the Pelicans need to brush up on their 3-point defense. After giving up an average of 19 threes to Utah over these last couple of games, it’s clear they still need to get back to the drawing board to address this glaring concern. Perhaps they can execute the necessary adjustments on their next outing against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.