New Pelican Jrue Holiday finds name funny; thinks team can be competitive

23 Comments

In New Orleans, the switch of the team name from Hornets to Pelicans largely went over well — it’s something local, not something imported and forced on them.

Outside New Orleans, there are a lot of people shaking their heads.

Until recently, Jrue Holiday was outside New Orleans. He was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers (a good local team name) to the Pelicans in a deal for Nerlens Noel. Holiday told Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated the name Pelicans still sounds a little funny to him.

“I mean, it’s funny, I’m not going to lie,” new point guard Jrue Holiday admitted Wednesday. “It’s funny saying it. ‘We’re the Pelicans.’ But I’ve said it about half a million times now, so I’m used to it.”

Whatever you think of the name, the Pelicans are going to be an interesting team to watch next season — they were maybe the NBA’s most aggressive team this off-season. They traded for Holiday and added former King Tyreke Evans, to pair with the impressive Anthony Davis (who quietly had a good rookie season) and Eric Gordon. They also have some shooting with Ryan Anderson.

We’ll see how it comes together, but that’s a fair amount of talent.

“[Ownership and management] want us to be competitors,” Holiday said. “Starting off this year being the Pelicans, starting off something new, I think we’re doing it the right way. … We want to make the playoffs, especially with the moves that we made.”

One thing to watch is how well the Pelicans defend. Coach Monty Williams wanted to make it a point of emphasis last season but with the talent on the roster they finished 28th in the NBA in points allowed per possession. Holiday is a good defender, Davis is a year older as a rim protector, and if they can just get up to the league average on defense the Pelicans will have a shot at the playoffs.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
2 Comments

Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

Leave a comment

The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

Leave a comment

Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

Leave a comment

In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.