[via N.O. Pelicans]

Can What Happened In Vegas, Stay In Vegas for the Pels?

07:00 December 12, 2023
By: Kaitlin Lowe

The Pels' Highs & Lows

Last week marked a downturn for the Pels in what had been shaping up to be a pretty good season.

In the Western Semifinals of the In-Season Tournament, the Pelicans faced off against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Essentially, the game was hard to watch for any Pelicans fan following the second quarter. New Orleans suffered a 44-point loss to the Lakers. It's hard to pinpoint what went wrong when, in reality, nothing went right after the first quarter.

"Tonight was a total letdown. We were disappointed in our lack of competitive spirit. Our first quarter was fine, but we didn't match the Lakers' game in the last three quarters," said Coach Willie Green after the game.

[via N.O. Pelicans]

The games in the weeks leading into this semifinals game in Las Vegas had been making a good case for the Pelicans as a playoff team. But when this elimination game with the chance to win the first-ever NBA cup was presented to them, they took a hard turn in the wrong direction.

This game showed that the Lakers know what it takes for elimination games, while the Pelicans showed they couldn't do that. The lack of motivation and energy were evident not just from Zion, with only 13 points, but also from Ingram and McCollum, who put up only 9. Additionally, we saw Zion miss 5 out of 6 of his free throw attempts.

"There was a lack of urgency and energy," said Trey Murphy III. "It was embarrassing for that game to be on national television. Not much else to say about it."

Furthermore, many questions point towards Coach Green—such as Jordan Hawkins being benched and the spirit of this team in important games.

"We have to be better. It's a tough loss, but we can't dwell on it. We need to learn from the game, starting on Monday," said Murphy.

Pressure on Zion

"I need to be better, get better shots, rile my team up better. I was too laid back. I need to be smarter on defense and be more aggressive," said Williamson in response to his game.

Towns defending Zion [Kaitlin Lowe]

Many angry fans called out Williamson for his poor game, shape, and attitude, with the media getting increasingly rough on him over a few days. While some say he'll be able to live up to "his potential" over time and after overcoming injuries, others are looking for other answers from him and the team.

Some fans even buzzed about pressuring for a trade, but from what we know, the Pelicans aren't giving up on Zion yet. Coach Green contends that not just Zion but the rest of our young players can learn from this experience.

Resting and Reactivating

With all the buzz and disappointment from fans, all eyes were on the Pelicans this Monday night as they hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even without Anthony Edwards, the Timberwolves still hold the best record in the NBA. Considering so, this win was just what the Pelicans needed to bring to the table.

Zion had done what he needed to prove the IST wasn't who he was as a player, putting up a new season high of 36 points. The defense had initially pushed the game in the Pels' favor, and the offense played off it fantastically. McCollum had brought back his shooting skills with 23 points and 4 threes made, and so did Ingram with 20 points.

Furthermore, JV and Jones had both secured 10 rebounds. "That's key for us. Our other wings that come in need to crack down on rebounding the ball," said Coach Green regarding improvements.

"The message from this game is how we respond. That game in Vegas was not who we are. We talked about it, watched films, communicated, and we came out and did the work," said Coach Green.

[Kaitlin Lowe]

In response to the media backlash, Williamson explains that, "If I want to be one of the best players in the league, conversations after big losses are expected. I can't control what people say or do, but I can focus on what I can control—and that's locking in on myself, my teammates, the Pelicans, and our city, and winning."

"We have a lot of potential, but we have a lot of growth to do. That said, we need to do things more consistently," said Williamson.

In response to the love still felt on his home court, met with a roaring crowd after the big blowout loss, Williamson says, "To the city, and to the fans, thank you. I'm going to do my best to not let you down."

You Win some, You Lose Some

After some highs and tough lows for the Pelicans this past week, they stand with a 13-11 record. So can what happened in Vegas, stay in Vegas?

Keep on watching our guys battle it out on the floor and check back in with Where Y'at Magazine to find out.

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