INDIANAPOLIS — New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson knew he was walking a fine line after the Pelicans’ 96-84 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. He hinted he wasn’t happy with the officiating, but wasn’t going to explicitly say it.
“There’s obviously a lot of things that I’m frustrated about, but I have to zip my mouth because I don’t want a fine,” Anderson said.
But he is no fan of the way the Pacers play. Neither are his teammates, judging by their performance in a game that again raised questions on how the Pelicans deal with physical play.
“This is a team that likes to frustrate,” said Anderson, who was 1-for-8 from the field before fouling out. “They’re definitely a team I think the referees very much respect because they have veteran guys. You know that Indiana plays dirty when you come in here. We’ve just got to have more energy and play like ourselves and move the ball and have patience.”
Even with Paul George likely out for the season because of a broken leg, the Pacers are loaded with experience. Eight players on the roster are in at least their seventh year in the NBA. They make little secret they want to turn nearly every game into a physical, hard-nosed, defensive battle.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams made it clear before Tuesday’s game that’s just what he expected. Yet, his players didn’t respond while losing to Indiana for the seventh consecutive time dating back to 2011. In most of those games, Indiana simply had the better team. That didn’t look to be the case this year, especially with George out.
“We talked about it,” Williams said. “Our guys are well aware. They’ve watched the Pacers play. They know what they do. It wasn’t a surprise to us. It was the same game as (Sunday’s 101-99 victory at Oklahoma City). We didn’t respond with the same intensity tonight.”
That’s what has made the Pelicans (14-14) hard to figure at times this season. They had turned in two solid road performances in a row going into Tuesday, with the win at Oklahoma City preceded by a 99-90 victory at Houston, in which they held the powerful Rockets to just 38.4 percent shooting from the field and got 32 points from their bench.
Those two wins were sandwiched around one of their worst performances of the season in a 114-88 home loss to Portland on Saturday. Against a struggling Indiana team (10-19), they allowed the Pacers to shoot 50 percent from the field and got just 17 points from their bench.
No one expects perfection, but even the Pelicans admit they’ve been frustrated by their lack of consistency.
“We have a great game and play incredibly well (in Oklahoma City) and we have a game tonight like that,” Anderson said.
Added center Anthony Davis: “Definitely frustrating. We went 1-1, but this could have easily been a 2-0 trip. We didn’t come out tonight and play with emotion and we can’t do that if we’re going to be a good team.”
Tyreke Evans was a bright spot for New Orleans, scoring 14 points and grabbing a season-high 11 rebounds. But Indiana got a huge boost from veteran guard George Hill, who scored 15 points in his first game of the season after recovering from a torn quadriceps muscle.
“We just have to pick up our momentum and play a little harder,” Williams said. “You’re going to have games where you don’t score or shots don’t go down. But the level of intensity was high tonight and we just didn’t respond.”