The New Orleans Pelicans (1-5) lost to the Orlando Magic (2-5) in overtime, 114-111. Anthony Davis started strongly and wound up with a line of 33 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 three-pointers but 5 costly turnovers. Terrence Jones added 24 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals/blocks/triples. After going scoreless in the first three quarters — largely due to foul trouble — Buddy Hield finished with 11 points and 2 threes.
With the preseason schedule now over for New Orleans, the team is guaranteed to finish with the worst record in the Western Conference. And remember, the one lone win came against a Dallas Mavericks roster that was missing all of their regular starters save breakout candidate Harrison Barnes. (COUGH!!!)
The Pelicans started Thursday’s preseason finale like gangbusters, and Anthony Davis led the charge by pouring in 16 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in the opening quarter. At the 5:13 mark of the second quarter, the Pelicans maintained a 23-point lead — their largest of the game — but the Magic closed the frame on an 18-7 run before halftime, and then they proceeded to win the third and fourth quarters.
Interestingly, Buddy Hield had not one but two opportunities to put the Pelicans ahead before the end of regulation, but he missed a three-pointer with 22 seconds left and then this shot from in close at the buzzer.
Buddy Hield had a pretty good look to win the game for the Pelicans. pic.twitter.com/AG2D7x0jeV— Oleh Kosel (@Redhopeful) October 21, 2016
The Magic raced out to a 6-point lead in overtime and Davis left soon after the tip, prompting many to believe he had suffered some sort of injury. However, in his post-game comments, Gentry reassured the media that AD was removed due to the 37 minutes he had accumulated and the fact that he had played too many consecutive minutes down the stretch. (Davis had re-entered the game at the 9:19 mark of the fourth quarter.)
So, how did the Pelicans manage to throw away a game that saw them ahead by 15 points during the first few minutes of the fourth quarter? Try an utter team-wide breakdown on both ends of the floor that was thoroughly evidenced by the Pelicans fourth quarter 77.3 offensive rating and 121.8 defensive rating.
During the final 10:45 of regulation, the Pelicans made just 5 field goals (on 20 attempts), committed 6 turnovers and were out rebounded by 7 boards. In particular, it was blatantly obvious the small-ball lineup of Tim Frazier, Hield, Solomon Hill, Terrence Jones and Davis was just simply overwhelmed.
Pelicans small ball lineup gives up a 13-2 run in the last ~3 minutes and Orlando has a shot to win it.— David Fisher (@DavidFisherTBW) October 21, 2016
Preseason games is a time for a lot of trial and error, and Gentry admitted that the fourth quarter was not a true representation of what fans will see in the regular season. On the flip side, you can bet your bottom dollar the team wanted to prevent finishing the schedule with five consecutive exhibition losses before they kick things off against the Denver Nuggets next Wednesday.
Whichever glass you like to drink from, know this, the Pelicans are not ready to start the regular season. Gentry stated that he was happy with the overall effort level but immediately mentioned concern about the decision-making. Training camp began nearly a month ago (September 24th), but the Pelicans are still having trouble with the fundamentals.
Sorry guys, I wish I had better news.