Stan Van Gundy Rips Pelicans' 'Embarrassing' Defensive Effort in T-Wolves Loss

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy gestures to an official during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy said it was an "embarrassing evening" after Thursday night's 135-105 blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who own the NBA's worst record. 

"Look, I understand it's on me and what we're putting out there defensively is embarrassing, quite honestly," Van Gundy told reporters. "We've all got to take ownership of it. A lot of it is me, and a lot of it is our players, and they've got to take some ownership. We didn't compete tonight, and that's the bottom line. We didn't compete. We didn't help each other. We didn't play together on either end of the floor."

The Pelicans, who are lagging a bit behind in the West's closely contested playoff race, dropped to 15-22, while the Wolves improved their record to 8-29.

New Orleans allowed Minnesota, which ranks 27th in offensive efficiency, to shoot 53.7 percent from the field while knocking down 19 threes at a 47.5 percent rate.

The loss was made more frustrating for the Pelicans by the fact they led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter only to watch the Wolves turn it around into a lopsided result in the opposite direction.

It's the type of defeat Van Gundy's squad can't really afford during the second half of the season. They are now 3.5 games behind the Golden State Warriors for the 10th seed, which is the final spot in the play-in tournament before the playoffs.

The 61-year-old coach, who's spent four decades on the sideline at the collegiate and pro levels, said the poor outing came after "one of the worst practices I've been a part of" on Thursday.

"[The Timberwolves] played well and were inspired to play. We didn't seem to care," Van Gundy said. "We got what we deserved. When I say we, again, I'm not putting it all on the players. I'm a big part of that, too, but I'm not absolving them. It's all of us."

Zion Williamson led the way for the Pelicans with 24 points. Nobody else topped 13 points as the team combined to make just six of its 32 three-point attempts (18.8 percent) while turning the ball over 18 times.

Brandon Ingram attributed his team's lackluster performance to a bit of rust coming out of the All-Star break, but he noted they must get back on track quickly.

"There's only 35 games left, and we want to be in the playoffs, so we have [to have] the urgency to figure it out," Ingram said.

New Orleans is right back in action Friday night when it hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Smoothie King Center.