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New Orleans Pelicans start hot but finish with deafening thud in 126-111 loss against Indiana Pacers

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Everything came unglued after halftime as the Pacers outscored the Pels by 28 points.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans fell 126-111 to the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, but the final score failed to accurately describe the incredulous turn of events.

This game was undoubtedly a tale of two halves as the Pelicans dominated first half action by erupting for 71 points, but then after halftime they were only able to muster another 40. Most notably, the easy baskets and hot perimeter shooting came to a grinding halt. After scoring 19 fastbreak points and knocking down eight of their 16 attempts from the three-point line inside the first 24 minutes, the Pelicans totaled just six points in transition and failed to make a single three for the rest of the contest. In addition, they shot a woeful 10-20 from the free throw line after intermission.

“I thought we played well in the first half, but I thought that the end of the first half some of the things that happened kind of swung the momentum their way,” said Alvin Gentry to postgame media. “We didn’t shoot the ball well at all. We were 8-16 from three in the 1st half, 0-11, I think, in the second half. All you’ve got to look to do is look at the second chance points and the turnovers. One third of their points came off of our turnovers. I think they scored 25 points off our turnovers; they had 19 second chance points so that’s where the game was lost. I didn’t think we played with the same energy to start the third quarter as we had started the game with.”

The Pacers closed the first half on a 7-0 run and what could have been close to a 20-point halftime lead was 13 at the break. However, sitting from the comforts of home, the larger turnaround seemingly took place just a minute into the third quarter. Anthony Davis strode up to the foul line for two shots and a chance to extend New Orleans lead to 18 points; however, he missed them both.

“Your team hates you...”

Certain members of the Indiana crowd, who famously gave Brandon Ingram a difficult time a little more than a few weeks ago in the Pacers 136-94 victory over the Lakers, seemed to completely disrupt the Pelicans focus. Following Davis’ two misses from the charity stripe, Indiana went on to slaughter New Orleans 68-37 the rest of the way.

The Pelicans were outscored by 31 points in the final 23 minutes of action!

Needless to say, nothing else needs to be written about the second half. The Pelicans shot blanks from all over the court, lost all of their aggressiveness and energy, while the Pacers rolled. Tyreke Evans went a perfect 6-6 after starting the game 0-3 from the field. Wesley Matthews canned 6-11 from three and tallied 24 points. For a team that averaged 108.1 points per game entering the night, five Pacers finished with 16 points or more.

Well, on second thought, maybe we should mention one more thing: Cheick Diallo happened.

If there’s one player who deserves credit for bringing great effort during the second half collapse, it’s the Pelicans third-year power forward. During those last 23 minutes, Diallo grabbed 13 rebounds and New Orleans was only a -5 on the scoreboard during his 14+ minutes. For the game, Diallo finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds, a new career-high. Moreover, those 18 boards marked a significant achievement.

Following the game, Alvin Gentry noted some positives of Diallo’s performance.

“I think the way Cheick plays is he’s always going to be involved because he’s just such an active guy,” said the Pelicans head coach. “To come up with 18 rebounds and play the way he played, I thought he played with so much energy throughout. He’ll continue to get better on the little things — positioning-wise, angles and things like that — by just playing, but the energy he plays with is the big key.”

Energy. This has been the overriding theme since Anthony Davis’ group first announced his trade request towards the end of January.

When AD was sidelined for nine games, the team played with fantastic gusto, staying in all ballgames regardless the caliber of the opponent. Since the maligned superstars’ return, New Orleans has gone through crazy long stretches of listless play and tonight was yet another shining example. While Davis was a part of New Orleans outstanding start out of the gates against Indiana, the Pelicans have exhibited great difficultly in putting forth the requisite effort from start to finish with him in the lineup.

Good thing there’s another 22 games left on the schedule and Danny Ferry has already gone on record saying that the Pelicans are going to abide by the league’s wishes and play AD for the rest of the season.

Sigh.