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Pelicans wilt in second half, lose 126-85 to Warriors

New Orleans loses their sixth straight after historic meltdown

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

New Orleans lost their sixth straight game Friday night, a 126-85 drubbing at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.

We wish we could say the Pelicans lost and just move on, but it doesn’t work that way. After a hard fought first half, things entirely flew off the rails in the second — the Warriors outscored the Pels 72-35 over the final 24 minutes.

“We just got to be tougher,” Willie Green said in postgame. “That’s a really good team and they played like it. They turned it up in the second half. We didn’t have a response. No excuses on my end, we have to be a tougher team physically and mentally we have to be tougher.”

Jonas Valanciunas put forth another fine effort, finishing with 20 points and 15 rebounds (both team highs). Josh Hart almost had his own double-double with ten points and eight rebounds. And Tomas Satoransky arguably had his best statistical performance of the season. If you’re looking for positives beyond that, there really weren’t many.

In a game where Stephen Curry only scored 19 points, the Pelicans lost by 41. Yes, you read that right, 41.

While New Orleans continues to desperately miss their two All-Stars in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, as well as rookie revelation Herb Jones, there’s still some things that need to be mentioned about several of the players that suited up.

Thoughts and Observations

The Young Guys:

Injuries have once again put a large responsibility on players such as Nickel Alexander-Walker, Jaxson Hayes, and Kira Lewis to an extent. It’s clear the Pelicans were expecting a jump from at least one of these players and maybe two if we’re talking NAW and Jaxson. So far that simply hasn’t happened, and we’ll get to Jaxson shortly who didn’t record a single minute played. Naji Marshall and Trey Murphy III deserve to be thrown in this conversation as well.

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Lewis, NAW, Marshall, and Murphy combined to shoot 9/37 from the field Friday night. No matter the argument in regards to the players who aren’t currently healthy or the new roles that each player has been asked to step into, there’s a clear struggle at hand.

There’s no easy way for a team to make up the 51 points per game that’s sitting on the bench from the two cornerstones. There’s something to be said for each player down the ladder overcompensating. But at the end of the day, next man up means precisely that. In addition, each player listed is very important to New Orleans’ future as they work towards better health. They need for that group to find their groove no matter how difficult the task.

Jaxson not in action:

After what seemingly amounted to a benching a couple nights ago in Sacramento, Hayes didn’t log a single minute Friday night. He was the only healthy body to not enter the game. In a 41-point loss, it’s clear that a lesson is being administered.

New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It’s unclear if Jaxson will have the opportunity to prove himself soon, similar to last season. But one has to wonder how many more benchings can be afforded.

With New Orleans off to a 1-9 start, an argument can be made that he should play, but a message must be sent. Willie Green isn’t pulling those strings on a shallow roster for nothing.

Hayes’ demotion last season by Stan Van Gundy resulted in a nice turnaround. Let’s hope the current situation plays out in the same fashion quickly.

Returns of Ingram and Jones:

Both Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones nearly returned on Friday, but BI had some lingering soreness and Herb unfortunately suffered another injury — tweaking his left ankle while performing tests to show the concussion was a thing of the past.

New Orleans desperately needs their best scorer and defender back. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, with a visit to Dallas to face the Mavericks on Monday.

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