ATLANTA — A lack of efficiency in the backcourt created a domino effect of poor execution for New Orleans as the Pelicans fell to the Hawks 100-91 on Friday.
The Hawks’ tandem of Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver outshined New Orleans’ duo of Jrue Holiday and Austin Rivers to pace the hosts to victory. Teague dropped a game-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting with seven assists and Korver followed up with 11. Holiday played well, scoring 20 points. However, Rivers had a rough outing, going scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting from the floor.
“It was a bad night for me. I had good looks. I’m angry. You want to have a better output, but I can’t get it back,” Rivers said. “We play Washington in less than 24 hours. I can either dwell about it and go out and do the same thing tomorrow, or go out there and play hard. That’s what good players do. That’s what professionals do.”
New Orleans shot a woeful 40 percent. The offense lacked fluidity and cohesion on multiple possessions. The team’s off-target shooting and inability to keep pace on defense created too many obstacles to overcome.
“We missed a ton of shots. In the first quarter, I thought we had good looks,” coach Monty Williams said. “Guys just missed shots. I didn’t think we ran the offense tonight. I thought we were just existing on offense. Then we started to get it back in the second half, but the last group didn’t stop anybody. For whatever reason, we’ve hit a bit of a bump here. We have to work our way through it.”
Anthony Davis was par for the course with yet another double-double on the stat sheet. His night included 14 points with 11 rebounds. However, this was a huge drop-off from his normal output of 25.4 points per game.
“It’s tough when you’re not making shots. It’s still early in the season and we’ll get it right,” Davis said.
Atlanta’s defensive strategy to clog the paint was pivotal in securing the win. The Hawks dropped back in coverage like a nickel formation in football to keep the lengthy Davis from freely posting up and scoring with ease.
Normally, this type of defensive strategy leads to open shots around the wing and at the top of the key. However, New Orleans’ shooters had an off night and were unable to offset the Hawks’ alignment.
Although the score never really got out of hand, except for one instance when the Hawks went up by 16, Atlanta dominated the game from beginning to end. The Pelicans managed to close within 10 points at different junctures, but were never able to string together a solid run to either tie things up or take the lead.
“Every time we cut the lead to eight or 10, they’d come down and get an and-one or make a three. We’d make a shot, and then they’d make another big play,” said Davis. “My hat’s off to them. Atlanta’s a good team and they did a great job of execution and moving the ball.”