New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis had 34 points, 26 rebounds and three blocks against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday evening.
Somehow, the Pels still lost.
The Nets scored 73 first-half points Cheap New Orleans Pelicans jerseys en route to a 126-121 win. Brooklyn led by 18 heading into the fourth before holding on.
Afterward, Davis expressed his frustrations. “We’re a better team than our record shows,” he said per Ian Begley of ESPN.com. “Everyone is frustrated. Players, coaches, front office. We’ve just got to do better.”
Davis also referenced the team’s poor defensive effort:
“We wasn’t playing no defense. The whole first half, they did whatever they wanted. They didn’t feel us on the defensive end. We wasn’t physical, wasn’t talking. They got a lot layups, a lot of open threes. They shot the ball extremely well in the first half due to our lazy defense.”
The 17-22 Pels, who are now 14th in the Western Conference, were No. 26 in the NBA in defensive efficiency entering Wednesday.
The Pels were also No. 26 in points per game allowed.
Wide-open shots and easy drives into the lane characterized the Nets’ offensive night. Brooklyn deserves much credit for hitting 50.5 percent of its shots and 16 of 31 three-point attempts, but the Pels made it easy by offering little resistance:
Davis did offer a silver lining, though, referencing the team’s run to the Western Conference Semifinals last season:
“We know what we did last year. We know how good of a team we are this year,” Davis said. “We just got [Payton] back, and then we have Niko out; we can’t stay healthy. We still have to go out there and prove it. We just can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”
Davis could be right when he says the team is better than its record. The Pels did start 4-0 with a healthy team on the floor, but point guard Elfrid Payton has played just eight games and Nikola Mirotic has been out since December 10.
Payton is back now. If Mirotic comes back healthy and the five-man unit of Davis, Payton, Mirotic, guard Jrue Holiday and power forward Julius Randle stays on the floor, then a run to playoff contention isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
However, the Pels’ defensive problems don’t look like an easy fix right now, as they’ve been a season-long issue. That lowers New Orleans’ ceiling, although a bounce-back toward a record above .500 is plausible.