After losing Tony Wroten to a partial ACL tear over the weekend, the Sixers were devastated to hear that another piece of the backcourt wouldn’t be available for Monday’s battle with the New Orleans Pelicans as Michael Carter-Williams was sidelined with an upper respiratory infection. And although Michael Carter-Williams’ offensive game has been questionable recently to say the least, he has produced quality numbers throughout the course of this season, meaning the Sixers minus MCW and Tony Wroten were going to have a difficult time getting the job done Monday night in New Orleans.
The Pelicans have witnessed an up and down season thus far but with that being said, they still find themselves as a respectable team in the western conference playoff picture heading down the stretch. They entered Monday night’s affair with the Sixers on a three-game winning streak, playing arguably their best basketball of the season and last night was no different. It was all smiles from the Pelicans right from the opening tip as they came out of the gates scorching hot from the field and helping their cause by almost always getting a high-percentage look at the rim. The game seemed to revolve around the play of New Orleans Center Anthony Davis as he contributed 13 of his 32 points on the night in the first quarter, surging the Pelicans to an early 30-19 lead after one quarter of play.
As Davis rested to begin the second quarter, the Sixers took control of the stars absence and began to gain momentum. They cut the lead to 34-33 New Orleans just before Davis reentered the ballgame. There were no signs of pulling this one out after that short glimpse of excitement. Davis controlled the pace of the game and the Pelicans built their lead back up to nine points before the buzzer sounded for halftime, 52-43.
The third quarter of play resembled much of the first quarter as the Pelicans outscored the Sixers 33-19, stretching their nine point halftime advantage to 85-62 and officially putting the game out of reach for the wounded Sixers in the process. Anthony Davis had himself yet another big quarter as he notched 13 points in the third, giving him two 13-point quarters on the night. The Sixers continued to struggle mightily on offense in the third quarter as the Pelicans defense flocked to the ball with ease, forcing the Sixers into low percentage opportunities that weren’t falling. And the Sixers only added 19 points in the quarter for their second 19-point quarter of the game.
During the fourth quarter the Pelicans quickly realized this was no longer a contest and began to rest their starters. The Sixers also began to come to the conclusion they had no chance of winning the game so they seemed to just give up. It was a boring end to the affair as only 26 points were scored in the fourth quarter between both teams. Of course the Pelicans won the quarter, 14-12, and wound up winning the game, 99-74.
Nerlens Noel was no match for Davis throughout the entire course of the game and simply said afterwards, “I may have been over-hyped for this game.” With the absence of MCW and Tony Wroten in mind, this was a clear cut opportunity for Noel to step up and lead the team against another powerful center. Coach Brett Brown was excited to see how amped up Noel was for the game but once he hit the floor, Anthony Davis shut him down. Davis notched 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots to help extend the New Orleans winning streak to a season high four games. Davis also had five incredible dunks to please the New Orleans crowd Monday night and was able to predict almost every move Nerlens Noel was going to make. He held Noel to just 1/9 from the floor for 2 points. Noel had 2 blocks on the defensive end and gathered 6 rebounds as well in the losing effort. One positive to take away from Noel’s performance was the fact that Davis shot 7/9 when Noel was on the bench and when Noel was guarding him, he only managed to put up 12 points on 5/10 shooting.
The lone bright spot offensively for the Sixers was probably K.J. McDaniel’s who put together an impressive game, leading the team with 16 points. Henry Sims also had himself a nice night, contributing 14 points but in the end it wasn’t enough. The Sixers received another beat down from a western conference opponent. The Pelicans outshot the Sixers 45.3 percent to 34.6 percent and outrebounded Philadelphia 52-38. The lose sends the Sixers into a six-game losing streak with their last win coming on January 16th when they defeated this same Pelicans team back home, 96-81. Tonight was the opposite of that game and the Pelicans outplayed the Sixers on every level, pushing their record to 24-21 on the season, while the Sixers see their record fall to 8-37. They are now tied with the Knicks for the worst record in the eastern conference.
Next up: Wednesday vs Detroit 7pm tip