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New Orleans Starts Fast, Falters Late in Atlanta, Lose 94-93

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The Pelicans’ three-game win streak ends in the Philips Arena

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Quick- what do you get when you cross a come from behind win in New York, a potentially season-defining win in Boston and a trip to the worst team in the NBA’s home arena?

If you’re the New Orleans Pelicans, you get yet another frustrating loss to a losing team that had no right beating you.

The Pelicans, overnight darlings of the league after their win over the Celtics, came into the Philips Center hoping to push their three-game win streak to a season best four consecutive wins. Having played their third game in four nights, a phenomenon known as a “schedule loss” was certainly in play for New Orleans. Those fears seemed to be put aside though as New Orleans led Atlanta by as many as 19 points in the first half and went into the break up 15.

Then the third quarter rolled around and the Pelicans proceeded to Pelican harder than any team has Pelicanned ever before.

A ten, count ‘em ten, point third quarter absolutely doomed New Orleans who looked every bit the team that played late into the evening the night before in Boston and was playing their second game in as many days.

I can count on one hand the number of made baskets the Pelicans had in the third quarter and really that ought to tell you all you need to know about what did New Orleans in tonight. If you peruse the third quarter play-by-play, you’d need a magnifying class, a shovel and the world’s most precise GPS to find the makes buried under the mountain of misses.

New Orleans played Atlanta to a 23-23 draw in the fourth quarter but getting outscored by 16 points in the previous frame undid the good work shown in the first half. Kent Bazemore hit a fadeaway jumper over Anthony Davis’ outstretched arm with 2.1 seconds to play to give Atlanta that game-sealing 94-93 edge.

On the one hand it’s hard to be too upset about this loss. The Pelicans were coming off a back-to-back and had to go into overtime the previous two games. It’s easy, and probably not unfair, to call this a schedule loss.

But therein lies the constant frustration with this Pelicans team: they get up for big games and can pull the upset over a Boston or a Cleveland or a San Antonio; but far too often they get beat by the likes of Dallas, Sacramento, Memphis and now Atlanta. Add in the whole “up 19” thing and that’s why the Pelicans continue to hover around .500. Anybody can beat anybody in the NBA- we saw it last night when the Pelicans went into the new Garden and beat the Celtics; we saw it again tonight when the Hawks, owners of the worst record in basketball, beat those very same Pelicans. The mark of a good team isn’t “can you beat the league’s best?” It’s “can you maintain focus and beat the bad team after beating the good ones?” Tonight the Pelicans missed their mark.

What else is new?

Game Notes

  • This really is a frustrating loss for New Orleans: even with that awful third quarter, the Pelicans still shot better than Atlanta from the floor and three. Not an easy task considering the Hawks are top-five in three point percentage and it makes the loss all the more irritating.
  • Jrue Holiday was about the only starter to have an unquestionably good game tonight: 22 points, four rebounds and four assists while hitting two of his three three-pointers.
  • DeMarcus Cousins’ night was more of a mixed bag: the good included 19 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. The bad featured a 6-17 shooting night, five turnovers and four fouls.
  • It’s not often we go this deep into a Pelican recap and not mention Anthony Davis. Quite frankly he didn’t play well enough to warrant an earlier mention. Davis had eight points and eight rebounds after having back-to-back 45 and 15 nights in New York and Boston. Turns out even superstars get tired, too.
  • Darius Miller had another good night against Atlanta with 17 points thanks in large part to hitting three of four threes. By my count that’s seven threes against the Hawks in two games.
  • Good to see Ian Clark doing a little bit of everything again tonight: Clark had eight points, a pair of rebounds and collected an assist and a steal.
  • Kent Bazemore led the way for Atlanta with 20 points and apparently hit his first game-winner of his NBA career. Really poor timing on his part imho.
  • Dennis Schroder had an obscene 13 points and 15 assists. Joel Meyers said on the broadcast that Schroder’s a shoot first point guard. Maybe he heard him say that.
  • That John Collins can play, man. Collins scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.