Pelicans Home Opener Game
With our New Orleans Pelicans coming off a big win from their season opener in Memphis, even more excitement has built up for the grand home opener against the New York Knicks at the Smoothie King Center.
High scorer of the 10/25 game against Memphis #3 CJ McCollum reflected on their first win, saying, "we defended better, we played with better pace, moved the ball a bit more, and got our guys in spots they like to be in to score."
Despite the improved fluidity of the Pels offense, a good game for our star players (with McCollum, Zion Williamson #23, and Brandon Ingram #19 scoring a combined 66 points) and new standout players such as Matt Ryan #37, the team made it clear there was work to be done prior to the home opener.
"We've got to handle the ball better, we've got to tighten up," said McCollum after the game, regarding the 28 points Memphis scored on turnovers.
The Match Up
In the last Knicks-Pelicans game on April 7, 2023, the New York Knicks suffered a narrow defeat losing 113-105 to the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. New Orleans scoring was led by Trey Murphy III, who scored 31 points.
This Saturday, The Knicks came out to the Smoothie King Center to play their second back-to-back game following their first win of the season in Atlanta on Friday, days after a loss on Wednesday to the Celtics.
"Randle, Barrett, Brunson, and Quickley are all guys that can score in bunches. If you let them get momentum early, you could be in trouble. We've got to come out and attack right away. We're excited about the opportunity to get back out and play," said Green regarding the Pels strategy for this Knicks matchup.
Coach Green explained how mindful the team needs to be about Mitchell Robinson and the Knicks team rebounding, citing that "Robinson is a difference-maker on both ends of the floor. Defensively, they do a great job protecting the paint. He normally goes into drop coverage, and whenever anyone comes to the basket, he is waiting there for you. He is a great offensive rebounder. When we do get stops, we have to make sure all five guys are engaged to box him out."
It's Go Time!
Upon entrance, every attendee in the crowd was welcomed with a Pels' Crescent City t-shirt, allowing the whole stadium to show their spirit.
To initiate the start of the season in the Smoothie King Center, McCollum took the mic to send a special thanks and welcome to the fans. He inaugurated the beginning of a great season by saying, "we'll need you this season, tuning in from home and all, to get us to the playoffs this season."
After a beautiful national anthem, the Pelicans debuted a new entrance video with breathtaking shots of the players and of the city of New Orleans—leaving the crowd with nothing short of chills seconds before tip-off.
The Pels, amped up with a roaring crowd, outpaced the Knicks in the first quarter with a score of 26-12.
The Pelicans previously discussed establishing pace of play at the start of the game. "Even if a team is not coming off a back-to-back game, it's what you want to do. We want to get stops, play with pace and get out in transition. That is some of our best offense," according to Coach Green.
Throughout the second quarter fans witnessed sharp shooter #24 Jordan Hawkins come alive. Despite having a rough first game, the rookie sank three three pointers during the quarter.
The Pels kept up the pace, made great shots, and exhibited strong defense, leaving the score 55-37 at the half. Zion didn't just play an excellent game with 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists, but was visibly exhilarated, engaging with the crowd and smiling ear to ear.
With the Pelicans on point from the jump, they kept a lead for the entirety of the game. Knicks fans flooded out the doors with just about five minutes left due to the Pelicans 19 point lead. With a big game against the Warriors on Monday, the starting players got a chance to rest for the remainder of the quarter.
The final score was 96-87, with the high scorer of the game being none other than Brandon Ingram—with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
"We were flying around, contesting shots in the paint, having each other's backs. We can do a better job of
rebounding the ball, but for the most part, that's the defense that we want to see night in and night out," said Coach Green after the game. Coach Green also commented on the stellar duo dynamic between Ingram and Zion, and great defensive skill shown by #5 Herb Jones.
"This is our house and we have to protect it. The energy is always great in here. I am glad that we could deliver a win in the home opener," said Willamson regarding being back out on his home court.
This Is Just The Beginning!
We're ecstatic for the Pelicans and their great start to the season. With the regular 2022-23 season just starting, grab your tickets to see a game at the Smoothie King Center while they're still available. Don't forget to tune into the Pelicans next home game against the Golden State Warriors on Monday—Go Pels!