The New Orleans Pelicans’ 108-103 victory Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers was a gutsy performance by a team without its All-Star power forward, Anthony Davis, and its starting point guard, Jrue Holiday — both out injured.
And it was a game in which the Pelicans met the physical challenge of the bigger, more athletic Clippers, with Ryan Anderson outplaying All-Star reserve Blake Griffin. He had nine rebounds — including as many (four) on the offensive glass as Griffin had total.
However, certainly not lost on Clippers coach Doc Rivers was the disparity in 3-point shooting: 13-of-25 by New Orleans to 7-of-28 by Los Angeles.
“It killed us,” Rivers said. “That was the difference in the game. We’re one of the top 3-point shooters (third in the NBA at 38.4 percent), and they’re one of the worst (18th at 34.6 percent). They had a bunch of wide-open 3s.”
That has been a relevant development during this successful homestand by the Pelicans. In the four games so far, New Orleans has shot 42.4 percent on 3s. But in the three victories, the Pelicans were 28-of-58 (48.3 percent). In its lone loss, a leg-weary 93-85 setback to Denver on Wednesday, they shot 3-of-15.
“I think it is a byproduct of our defense,” coach Monty Williams said. “When we get stops, we’re usually in our game-time offense, and that opens up the floor. … We’re getting out on teams and running and finding guys open.”
Not a good reminder
With Austin Rivers returning to the Smoothie King Center on Friday, Williams expressed a lot of remorse.
One of the hallmarks of Williams and his coaching staff is player development. Rivers, the No. 10 pick in the 2012 draft, simply did not develop enough, so he was traded Jan. 12.
“We did everything we could to help Austin progress in his career,” Williams said. “The things that didn’t happen, I take full responsibility for that. Nobody else, not the coaches, the environment — that’s on me … and that’s not something I take lightly.”
Williams said going to a new team can give a player “a clean slate,” and being with the veteran Clippers should help Rivers get better.
“Austin’s with Chris (Paul) every day; he’s going to learn a lot from him,” Williams said. “Jamal (Crawford) is a guy who can help him. You can’t help getting better in that situation, and his dad’s a championship coach. He’s married up just leaving me. That’s a benefit in itself.”
Interestingly, much of Rivers’ problems centered on shooting. He had poor mechanics, using both hands to shoot, with his elbows out instead of his right shooting elbow tucked in and his left hand only to hold the ball. Yet nearly every player who worked with shooting coach Fred Vinson has shown improvement.
A better way
Starting with Monday’s game against Atlanta, the Interstate 10 westbound ramp on the west side of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will be closed for 10 months to a year for construction. Fans leaving the Smoothie King Center and heading west are urged to take alternate routes rather than starting with that on ramp, located 100 feet from the arena.
Outgoing alternative routes include taking Cypress Street to Tulane Avenue via Julia and Galvez streets and entering I-10 West at Carrollton Avenue; taking Dave Dixon Drive to Loyola Avenue to the Pontchartrain Expressway; and taking Poydras Street lake-bound via Clara or LaSalle streets to I-10 West from the Poydras Street on-ramp.
Traffic coming from the west to the arena will not be affected.