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BBNBA: Pelicans Struggling While Hornets Bench is Thriving


(Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

Good afternoon, folks. Did anyone else waste their extra hour? Welcome back to standard time. Let’s talk NBA.

RECAP

Cavaliers – 94 @ Hornets – 126

  • The super subs were at it again for the Charlotte Hornets. The team’s bench as a whole scored 64 points thanks to 16 points from Malik Monk and 10 points from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Hornets second-unit currently ranks second in the NBA in bench scoring at 50.0 points per game and the two former Wildcats are a big reason why. MKG added four rebounds and two blocks while Monk contributed five assists – a season-high – and shot 7-14 from the field. Monk still has yet to miss a free-throw, either. He’s 14-14 on the season.
  • While the Hornets didn’t need much to take care of the complicated Cavaliers, the bench was the reason the game took a lopsided turn in Charlotte’s. Not one Hornets starter – excluding Kemba Walker – finished with a plus/minus over plus-6. Five bench players for Charlotte registered a plus/minus of at least plus-23.

  • The Hornets currently sit with a 5-5 record, which is on pace for what I projected their final record to be, and still don’t look to be a serious playoff threat, but they’ve made some major progress in 10 games. Four of their five losses have come against the Bucks (8-1), Raptors (7-1), Thunder (4-4), and 76ers (6-4). Monk has clearly been much more involved in the offense. MKG is thriving in his sixth man role as the off-the-bench bruiser. Each player appears to have an established identity and it’s creating a team atmosphere where everyone knows their part and does their best to execute it.

Pelicans – 95 @ Spurs – 109

  • The New Orleans Pelicans have now lost five straight games – all by double-digits – after starting the season 4-0. Anthony Davis continues to be fluxed in and out of the rotation due to minor injuries, but it’s clearly affecting his ability to get into a quick rhythm. Davis did stuff the stat sheet, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and five blocks, however, he shot 5-13 from the field (0-2 from deep). Davis missed the previous game due to the same elbow that has been nagging at him for several games now and he even had a brief scare during this game after knocking his knee into San Antonio’s Dante Cunningham (he was fine, though).
  • Julius Randle struggled a bit, as well, posting 10 points and six rebounds on 3-9 shooting.
  • While the Pelicans current skid is depressing, it’s not too concerning. Davis hasn’t been 100 percent and they’re still trying to work out the best way to incorporate all three of Davis, Randle, and Nikola Mirotic effectively, which can be difficult when the best of that trio is missing every other game. Once the continuity returns, so will the wins.
  • Darius Miller returned to action after missing the previous four games with a quad injury. Miller played 14 minutes but did not register a point.

Jazz – 88 @ Nuggets – 103

  • The Denver Nuggets continue their scorching hot start to the season, jumping to an 8-1 record after taking down the Utah Jazz. Jamal Murray led all former Kentucky players Saturday night with 19 points on 7-16 shooting including five rebounds and four assists. Trey Lyles added eight points and six rebounds.
  • Normally for the Nuggets, it’s been the supernova offense that guides them to wins. This year, the defense has finally started to catch up. They currently have the third best defense in the NBA (after finishing 25th last season). Everyone expected this Nuggets team to make improvements, but not to this extent, they look like one of the top-five teams in the NBA right now. There’s still a lot of season left, but it’s been an encouraging start for the promising Nuggets.

Other notes

  • Rajon Rondo had his best game of the season thus far, dropping 17 points in addition to 10 rebounds, six assists, and three steals as he helped his Lakers beat the Trail Blazers. On a night where the Lakers younger players struggled, Rondo stepped in to fill the void.

  • Bam Adebayo played his most minutes of the season (30), but could only manage two points and seven rebounds. While Adebayo’s stats don’t look too fancy, he was a key member of a run that rallied the Heat in the fourth quarter from a double-digit deficit.
  • Alex Poythress finished with five points (2-3 shooting) and three rebounds for the Atlanta Hawks.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Jamal Murray (DEN)103-88 W vs. UTA197-16 (1-3)54002+1835
Anthony Davis (NOP)95-109 L @ SAS175-13 (0-2)83253-539
Rajon Rondo (LAL)114-110 W @ POR178-10 (1-1)106304+2825
Malik Monk (CHA)126-94 W vs. CLE167-14 (2-6)15001+2321
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA)126-94 W vs. CLE105-7 (0-0)40020+2818
Julius Randle (NOP)95-109 L @ SAS103-9 (0-2)62112-1426
Trey Lyles (DEN)103-88 W vs. UTA83-8 (0-3)63001+1620
Alex Poythress (ATL)123-118 W vs. MIA52-3 (1-1)31000-79
Bam Adebayo (MIA)118-123 L @ ATL21-2 (0-0)72122+1130
Darius Miller (NOP)95-109 L @ SAS00-1 (0-1)11000-1314
Brandon Knight (HOU)96-88 W @ CHIDNP-Knee----------------
Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)103-88 W vs. UTADNP-Foot----------------
Tyler Ulis (CHI)88-96 L vs. HOUDNP-G League----------------

TONIGHT IN THE NBA

3:30: Kings (Cauley-Stein, Fox, Labissiere) @ Bucks (Bledsoe, Meeks-suspended)

6:00: 76ers @ Nets

6:00: Knicks (Kanter, Knox-out) @ Wizards (Wall)

7:00: Magic (Briscoe) @ Spurs

8:00: Grizzlies @ Suns (Booker)

9:00: Timberwolves (Towns) @ Trail Blazers

9:30: Raptors @ Lakers (Rondo)


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA. Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan