After leading by as many as 18 points at one point, the New Orleans Pelicans wound up losing a 117-111 heartbreaker in overtime to the Denver Nuggets. With the loss, Denver wins the season series and now owns a potentially important tiebreaker between the two teams.
For most of the first half the Pelicans had control of the game. After an initial 10-4 deficit, New Orleans dominated the action until halftime. Things started out smoothly in the third quarter, too. The Pelicans expanded a 12-point lead at the break to 16 with 5:21 left in the frame. However, the Nuggets finished off the third on a 10-5 run and then the Pelicans offense in the fourth quarter froze up.
Most of the blame can be attributed to turnovers and a number of missed shots from point blank range. For instance, I can clearly recall Dante Cunningham and E’Twaun Moore both missing easy reverse lay-ins. Denver capitalized on these opportunities as 20 official miscues by New Orleans resulted in a total of 32 points for the Nuggets on the night.
Despite all of the errors, the Pelicans had a chance to win the game in regulation. Following a timeout, the play was drawn up for Jrue Holiday to create something on his own in the final 18 seconds of the game. However, he started his move too late, and his contested jumpshot was blocked right before the buzzer sounded.
In overtime, Will Barton carried the Nuggets, scoring 11 out of the 13 Denver points. Anthony Davis scored six of the seven Pelicans points.
To make matters worse, Davis had another injury scare late in the fourth quarter when he rolled his ankle on Mason Plumlee with 3:21 remaining. Although he had to be helped off the floor initially, he played through it. Many feel that a similar play a few years ago would’ve sent the big man to the locker room for precaution, not this time as he admirably gutted it out. AD finished the game with 28 points, 12 rebounds and five tremendous blocks, and following the game, Head Coach Alvin Gentry wasn’t overly concerned about Davis’ condition going forward.
After praising Moore in my preview, he had a very rough night getting anything going. He managed just four points after connecting on only 2 out of 8 shots from the field, including an important miss in overtime. As for the rest of the Pelicans Big Three, the statistical numbers were largely there. Holiday, who was on fire in the third quarter, finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five three-pointers. DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points, four rebounds and five triples, but one can’t help but also notice the nine huge turnovers.
For the 11th consecutive game, New Orleans hit the double-digit mark in made three-pointers by knocking down 15 of their 34 attempts.
The story of the night was a familiar one: not being able to finish off the game with a victory after leading by 10 or more points in the second half. Although the Pelicans had a chance to fly home happy on the final shot attempt in regulation, it obviously didn’t work out that way.
Up next, the Pelicans (15-15) travel to face the Washington Wizards (16-13), a tough place to fetch a win, but New Orleans does have three days off to regroup. Maybe the time away from competition does everyone a whole lot of good?