With New Orleans up three in the final seconds of regulation, Eric Bledsoe let Derrick Rose drive by him. Lonzo Ball helped off Reggie Bullock in the corner. Rose passed to Bullock, who hit the tying 3-pointer.
Ball made the most significant error. Whether choosing to foul or defend, a team leading by three points in the final seconds nearly always wins, anyway. When a team knows the opponent needs a 3-pointer, the arc is far easier to defend. But Ball nuked that advantage by helping in the paint. The Pelicans should have just let Rose take a layup with a few seconds left.
The other breakdown: Van Gundy wanted to foul. That was Bledsoe’s job guarding Rose.
Was it conveyed in the huddle to foul?
Yeah. Yeah. I wasn’t paying attention. Lack of focus.
This is one of the most shocking admissions I’ve ever heard from a player about a game. It’s so surprising, it’s incomprehensible.
Was Bledsoe holding himself accountable, as embarrassing as that is? If so, he deserves credit for that. It wouldn’t excuse the error. But most players wouldn’t have been transparent about why they failed to execute the game plan.
Does Bledsoe have diagnosable trouble focusing? It’d seem the final seconds of a one-possession game for a team hanging in the postseason race would be the time to lock in. But some people have legitimate challenges focusing. Maybe Bledsoe deserves some empathy, even as his flaw impeded his team’s chances of winning. It’s not as if he were checked out throughout the game. He sparked a second-half run that got the trailing Pelicans back within reach.
Is Bledsoe trying to subvert his way out of New Orleans? After all, Bledsoe once tweeted “I Dont wanna be here” to accelerate a trade request from the Suns. The Pelicans seemingly never wanted Bledsoe, taking him as matching salary in the Jrue Holiday trade (which was primarily about draft picks). New Orleans tried to flip Bledsoe, and the desire to move on could be mutual.
But unlike Phoenix while Bledsoe was there, the Pelicans are in the postseason race – though fading. They’re three games out of play-in position after losing three straight, including another close loss to the Wizards.
Late-game breakdowns happen, especially for bad teams like New Orleans (25-32). But Bledsoe’s comment is alarming.
Whatever is happening, the Pelicans must identify the issue and address it.