Lonzo Ball says Pelicans were demoralized in fourth quarter collapse against Suns

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Jacob Rude
·3 min read
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It was hard to grasp what had just happened in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s shocking loss by the Pelicans. After leading for much of the night and not trailing since early in the second quarter, New Orleans entered the fourth quarter leading by 11 points and in control.

What played out was, without exaggeration, one of the worst quarters in the franchise’s history. The Suns caught fire from 3-point range, Chris Paul put on a masterclass and before the Pelicans could react, they trailed by double digits and Paul was reminding the city and franchise who he was.

In the end, Phoenix won the fourth quarter 41-12 and the game 132-114. The fourth quarter was the worst margin of defeat in a quarter in franchise history. The 18-point deficit was the worst margin of defeat for any team in the shot clock era that entered the fourth ahead by double digits.

“I have to watch the film but just being in the game and seeing it for a little bit, I think us not getting stops kind of demoralized us on the offensive end,” Lonzo Ball said. “When we saw them hitting threes back-to-back-to-back and we weren’t really getting any ball movements or any good shots or generating any type of good offense over the course of the fourth quarter, it just got worse and worse.”

A Pelicans offense that had been balanced and efficient throughout the night ground to a halt in the fourth. Even after Ball and Brandon Ingram checked back in earlier than normal at the 8:45 mark, New Orleans never could find a response offensively, managing just seven points before the starters were pulled with just under three minutes left.

“It’s going to be really hard to beat quality teams when you have stretches like that in the fourth quarter,” Ball said. “For us, we have to rely on our defense and, tonight, it wasn’t there in the fourth and that’s what happened and they blew the game open because of that.

Friday continued to expose many of the flaws the Pelicans have shown this season. The team continues to allow the most 3-pointers in the league and rank 29th in opponent 3-point percentage, both per Cleaning The Glass. That they rank as one of the best teams in the league in not allowing mid-range attempts or attempts at the rim matters little when teams consistently get open looks for three.

The team’s proficiency offensively, Friday’s performance notwithstanding, becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity when the 3-point defense is as porous as it’s been much of this season. Friday, though, represented one of the first times in recent weeks the New Orleans offense looked rudderless.

It does underline many of their problems in close games, though. While Friday’s game never met the requirements to be a “clutch” game by NBA’s statistical standards, many of the Pelicans’ same problems that occur in clutch moments were evident in their struggles against Phoenix.

“I think just get good shots,” Ball said on how to fix the late-game struggles. “You’re not always going to make good shots but at least if you know if the play is working or whatever we drew up is working and we’re getting quality touches and feeds out of it, that’s all you can ask for.

On the defensive end, we have to buckle down, especially in the fourth quarter, and closeout games.”

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Utah
-278-6.5O 237.5
New Orleans
+220+6.5U 237.5