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Close but no cigar: Pelicans fall 98-95 to Pacers despite losing Anthony Davis to injury

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Anthony Davis exited after a brutal fall in the 3rd quarter, but X-Rays were negative!

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans lost 98-95 to the Indiana Pacers in the finale of the 5-game road trip. The Pelicans trailed nearly the entire game and failed multiple times down the stretch to either tie or take the lead, including one final heave from Tyreke Evans at the buzzer.

More importantly, Anthony Davis’ health is again in question after a truly brutal fall while attempting a dunk against Pacers center Myles Turner (18 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks). Davis had his mid-range jumper going, scoring 14-first half points, and was trying to add a massive dunk to the mix when this happened:

Davis’ body basically became parallel to the floor as he fell, and after taking his free throws to ensure he could possibly return later, AD left the game to have X-rays taken on his hip and left thumb. Both turned up negative, according to Pelicans PR, but Davis did not return after being listed questionable.

Here’s hoping he can settle in at home and get himself ready for the upcoming 6-game homestand.

So close, yet so far away

In spite of the loss of Davis, the Pelicans still gave themselves a chance for victory, notably failing to cash in late possessions, despite free throw misses by the Pacers that could have iced the game. Indiana is tops in the NBA in free throw percentage (82.1 entering today’s game), but they probably don’t count on Glenn Robinson III to put games away — his two misses with 17.4 left, Indiana up 2, gave the Pels one last legit chance.

Off a nice mis-direction pick from Terrence Jones, E’Twuan Moore (15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks) clanged a mostly-open runner in the paint, resulting in a Pacers rebound and more free throws. Myles Turner promptly made 1 of 2, but Nola had no timeouts and their last shot, after Indiana took a foul with 1.7 seconds left, was a Tyreke fadeaway 3 from the corner that was well off the mark.

The Pacers moved to 19-4 (!) when leading after 3 and they’ve got the Eastern Conference’s second best home record (16-5 now), but again, the Pelicans had their chances, tying the game with more than 4 minutes remaining.

This layup by Moore tied the game and cemented his rightful place on the floor in clutch time, but not much good happened after that.

The Pels were 2 of their last 11; Tyreke especially struggled finishing at the hoop, going 1 of 5 in the last 4+ minutes. His effort to the hoop with 41.0 left, though, did get Solo an open dunk that brought the deficit to 95-96. Evans finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

Early Bird: 1st Quarter Bad, 2nd Quarter Good

Jrue Holiday picked up two early fouls in the first quarter, and the Pelicans paid the price for his absence almost immediately: after Holiday exited for Tyreke, the Pacers went on a quick 10-3 run and eventually extended an 11-9 advantage to 32-18 at the first quarter break. This included multiple alleyoops, a handful of turnovers and plenty of missed shots.

Thaddeus Young, in particular, forced mistakes by Buddy Hield and Evans as he had 4 steals in the first quarter and finished the night with 6 of them. He was almost at Kawhi Leonard’s level of, “if you have the ball, don’t go near that guy because he’ll take it from you.” The Louisiana native finished 8-of-9 from the field (17 points).

Buddy’s mistakes planted him on the bench despite shooting well (10 points, 4 rebounds in 15 minutes), so obviously Alvin Gentry was more comfortable with Tyreke, Moore and Langston Galloway throughout today’s contest. And those guys made their mark in the 2nd quarter: the Pels made 6 of 9 3-pointers (3 by Galloway) and shot over 63 percent, getting the score to 52-54 at half.

In the second quarter, Terrence Jones picked up two blocked shots while also being facialized on a Thaddeus Young dunk - as David Wesley said, “sometimes you’re gonna get got.” Even though this play went against Nola, it was still quite the highlight:

I’m Pro-Jones - so is Gentry & Co.

Jones finished with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks, securing almost all of the big man minutes after AD left the game. Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca (both DNP-CD) continued their relegation to the bench, while Donatas Motiejunas played just 7:49; starters Solomon Hill and Dante Cunningham, as per usual, made little to no impact and missed plenty of shots. Hill did spend time on Paul George, “limiting” the All-Star to 19, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Is Solomon Hill so dynamic defensively as to deserve 30 minutes? Hard to tell so we may need a deep dive on Hill’s defense at some point, because he seems to disappear almost every game.

Let’s get AD upright for some winnable home games and make sure he’s good to go for All-Star weekend! Voting finishes tonight (January 16), so jump on Twitter and hashtag #NBAVote Anthony Davis!