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New Orleans Pelicans lose Anthony Davis to groin injury, blow huge lead to Utah Jazz in painful loss, 114-108

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The Pelicans postseason odds might have taken a serious hit in the span of just one game.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

With 8:59 to go in the third quarter, the New Orleans Pelicans were leading the Utah Jazz by 16 points in the difficult to play Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Good times!

By the time the game had ended, not only did New Orleans chalk up another loss, to a record that keeps slipping lower and lower by the day, but everyone’s worst nightmare may have been realized — Anthony Davis collapsed from a non-contact injury and required lots of assistance to just get off the floor.

Soon after Davis was taken to the locker room, the Pelicans announced Davis had sustained a left groin injury. Following the game, Head Coach Alvin Gentry reported, “He has a strained groin and will have an MRI tomorrow in Portland. It’s very unlikely that he’ll play in Portland.”

When Davis’ night finished prematurely, the Pelicans had a lead of four points with 11:35 remaining in the game. The Jazz proceeded to go on a 10-0 run, and any experienced gambler would have taken the bet on New Orleans folding the rest of the way.

DeMarcus Cousins admitted in the locker room later that injuries are hard to watch when it happens during the game: “It can kind of mess with you mentally.” He also added, “You know it’s unfortunate. Um, it sucks. That’s the nature of this game. You know guys go down. The next guy has to be ready to step up and fill that void.”

Guess what, to the shock of many fans — including this one, the Pelicans did manage to make another charge.

Following an E’Twaun Moore block of Donovan Mitchell (btw, total stud, but more on that in a moment), the Pelicans ran off 12 straight points to seize a surprising 96-90 lead with 5:09 left in the fourth quarter.

Yet, just when fans started believing the Pelicans might pull off the miracle, Utah’s young phenom — who definitely doesn’t play like a rookie, led the Jazz to an entertaining comeback win. Mitchell scored half of their final 24 points in awe-inspiring fashion, eliciting a lot of high praise afterwards.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

“Like I said to the guys,” said Gentry. “If you would have said that we had an opportunity to be up four with 12 minutes to play, we would have taken that. We just didn’t finish the game. I thought they did a great job, and obviously Donovan played a great game and kept pressure on our defense the whole game, driving to the basket. When he didn’t driving, he was shooting the three-point shot. I think he’s got a chance to be a great player.”

Donovan Mitchell, the 13th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, who was traded (!!!) by the Nuggets to the Jazz, scored 41 points, setting a new Utah franchise scoring record for a rookie. The incredible feat put him in some other rather elite company, too.

Cousins remarked in his postgame comments that the rookie had a hell of a game, as he dominated from start to finish. “What didn’t he do?” quipped an obviously impressed Boogie.

In addition to watching Mitchell toy with them, New Orleans had trouble keeping Alec Burks at bay (24 points on 10-17 shooting). This duo’s consistent penetration into the lane and deft shooting was the difference in the outcome.

As for the Pelicans, it was a spirited effort, but tonight marked their third straight loss, dropping their record to 11-11 and the eighth slot in the Western Conference.

Offensively, the Pelicans started with a great game plan of patiently beating up the Jazz on the inside with Davis and Cousins, but too many missed easy looks around the rim throughout simply added up. Jrue Holiday missed several layups, but he was far from alone. In a game that was tied at 103 with two minutes to go, that just can’t happen when the opponent has several lethal weapons and you lose your most efficient scorer.

And speaking of things that shouldn’t happen, neither should a technical foul when the margin is only two possessions with over a minute left. Following a call where Holiday was whistled for a personal foul after he had appeared to tie up Burks for a jump ball, Gentry lost his cool with the officials.

While I don’t believe handing the Jazz an extra point put tonight’s contest out of reach, I disliked watching the frustration boil over at a time that wasn’t going to positively affect the outcome. If you’re willing to watch Davis repeatedly get fouled without advantageous whistles being blown his way in the preceding game — where an appropriate technical might have saved Davis from getting ejected... I dunno, maybe I’ll just stop here with my train of thought because it’s not headed anywhere good, huh?

As to where the Pelicans and their season goes from here, it’s anyone’s guess. Anthony Davis is what makes New Orleans tick. Losing him for any substantial period of time could effectively kill postseason hopes in the Crescent City. Pray for the most positive of MRI’s tomorrow in Portland.

Many others have said it before me: it’s sometimes hard to be a fan of this team. Tonight was one of those nights.