Dreariness filled the arena prior to the Pelicans’ loss to the Charlotte Hornets, but a first half filled with friendly surprises should have lifted everyone’s spirits high enough to make the tank a little more bearable Wednesday night.
Nothing was more indicative of the pregame hype level than one of the statistics featured on the video board during warmups: Dairis Bertans has averaged 11.1 minutes per game since joining the squad. However, by halftime, New Orleans had put together one of the most memorable first halves of season — no thanks to the limited group of available bodies.
The New Orleans Pelicans honored longtime equipment manager David “Big Shot” Jovanovic for his 30 years of service with the Hornets/Pelicans. Ask anyone in the Pelicans organization, Jovanovic is easily one of the most beloved and respected figures associated with Crescent City basketball.
“It was surprising honestly,” Jovanovic said. “I didn’t know it was happening — and I didn’t know my family would be here, but it’s really a reflection of all the people that helped make this journey for me come true. When I started, I thought I’d work one year, maybe three years, and now it’s thirty years. It’s been a lot of people. I’ve had great relationships with the players, from Dell Curry to his sons to Anthony Davis and all those guys. It’s also coaches, ball boys, the employees — it’s everybody. I’ve just been lucky to be a part of it.”
Janovic was all smiles but distinctly humble in talking about his accomplishment after tonight’s contest. After thanking the Benson family and a number of people who have made this opportunity possible, he described himself as the luckiest guy in the world.
Pierre the Pelican also contributed a late entry for Assist of the Year while helping one of the Pelicans’ game hosts answer quite an important question during the evening’s Kiss Cam.
The ultimate Kiss Cam Surprise pic.twitter.com/bAYedQh2il— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) April 4, 2019
Two shocked but utterly overjoyed Pelican employee faces, and although these two circumstances had nothing to do with the actual game, the crowd loved every second.
As for the action on the court, the 115-109 loss brought an end to a five-game home stretch — the longest stand of the season — and marked New Orleans’ last meeting with an Eastern Conference foe (10-20 record vs EC). Julius Randle finished with a game-high 34 points to pair with 11 rebounds. Ian Clark and Stanley Johnson contributed 17 points each, while soon-to-be free agent guard Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 32 of his own. New Orleans committed 19 total turnovers on the night.
“We had good looks and open shots we didn’t make,” head coach Alvin Gentry remarked to postgame media. “Then I thought we pressed a little bit when we had them later on in the game. We tried to will a win, and one of the things we have to do is just step up and hit the shot. More so than anything, it’s been the same thing that’s been haunting us for week: the turnovers.”
Next, the Pelicans will go on their final road trip of the season with games against Phoenix and Sacramento just before the April 9 season finale at home versus Golden State.