Orleans hardly changed a 2021-22 club that improved in the second half. Based on one 2022-23 game, that consistency gives them a significant advantage. In their season opener at Barclays Center, the Pelicans dominated the Nets. New Orleans ended a seven-game losing streak against the star-studded Nets in head-to-head games.
“It was a dominant performance throughout. We scored in the paint, made free throws, shot well, and cared for the ball. We made Brooklyn take some tough shots. Our road win was amazing.”
Willie Green has noted during the preseason that New Orleans has a “we score” approach, meaning it doesn’t matter who gets the shots or scores as long as the best snapshot is taken. On Wednesday, all three of the Pelicans’ expected top scorers surpassed 20 points before the end of the third quarter, demonstrating this technique. New Orleans had more high-percentage shots than Brooklyn because passers located the open guy.
Despite the visitors’ early double-digit lead, New Orleans’ starting unit had not played together in the preseason. They regained their significant advantage against Brooklyn’s first string in the third quarter.
The Pelicans defended Kevin Durant well despite his offensive domination. Kyrie Irving struggled with mid-range shots and pull-ups (6 of 19).
Williamson and Brooklyn’s Ben Simmons played their first NBA games in over a year. Williamson (25 points, nine rebounds) started the season better than Simmons, who scored four points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.