After getting off to a decent start, taking a 34-28 lead after the first quarter, the Pels were outscored 98-69 the rest of the way.
Kira Lewis Jr. came off the bench to lead New Orleans with a career-high 21 points. James Johnson had his second consecutive solid performance, finishing with 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Eric Bledsoe (14) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (12) also reached double figures.
And Jaxson Hayes did this…
ALL-ANGLES of Jaxson Hayes' incredible athleticism! pic.twitter.com/NVylT0jOVW— NBA (@NBA) April 3, 2021
I mean, he DID that.
Now, back to reality...
Bogdan Bogdonovic scored a game-high 26, making six three-pointers, while Kevin Heurter and Lou Williams combined for 43 points. Clint Capela added a double-double, with 14 points and 10 boards, as well as swatting six shots.
Former New Orleans Pelicans Solomon Hill had seven points and LSU product Skylar Mayes contributed four points and two steals to the visitors’ cause.
Playing without Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Steven Adams, and Josh Hart, the Pelicans were missing 80 percent of their starting lineup and their top reserve.
The remaining players gave effort, but with too many playing more minutes and in roles that they were unaccustomed with filling, New Orleans was overmatched against a more veteran Hawks team; one that was also playing without some major pieces.
Playing even in points in the paint, and from behind at the three-point line took any chance for a win away from the Pels. The league’s best rebounding team was outrebounded. The team that leads the NBA in second chance points had just seven on Friday. The offense that is so effective when the ball is moving, recorded assists on 22 of its 38 baskets.
Again, they were missing some pretty important pieces.
Even in defeat, the Pelicans did manage to pull to within just one game of 10th in the Western Conference standings.
But, far more important than anything that happened on the court will be the health statuses of the absent and vital components.
Ball has missed seven straight games with his hip injury, Williamson (right thumb sprain) and Ingram (right first MTP irritation) two in a row, and then tonight Adams and Hart were added to the list.
Most concerning, for the moment, is Josh Hart’s injured right thumb.
Josh Hart injury update: pic.twitter.com/oLScF7htbD— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) April 3, 2021
“He’s going to miss the vast majority of what’s left in the season,” said Stan Van Gundy after the game.
It’s a tremendous loss that comes as the Pelicans were finding some footing on the defensive end, and Hart was playing possibly the best basketball of his career.
SVG on the absence of Josh Hart going forward: "We feel him defensively. He's a guy who'd guarded 1-4 for us. He's our best defensive rebounder. We're going to miss him a lot on both ends. ... It's a big loss, no question."— Eliot Clough (@EliotClough) April 3, 2021
If the rest of the starters have to miss much more time, chasing a playoff spot becomes a far more difficult and complicated goal.
New Orleans plays next on Easter Sunday at the Houston Rockets. Houston is 2-25 since Feb. 6.
Perhaps the Easter Bunny can deliver 40-45 baskets to the Toyota Center for the Pelicans as they will look to snap a two-game losing streak.
Some good health would be better than a new suit, as well.
In the meantime, let’s take another look. You’ll feel better.