With the Pelicans trailing 11-10 out of the gates, the Nets put their foot on the gas and never let off, closing out the first half on a 58-31 run. This despite losing Kevin Durant at the 5:32 mark of the second quarter to a knee injury after Bruce Brown fell backwards into the superstar. (Fingers crossed that KD’s MRI on Sunday comes back clean.)
Injuries aside, nothing seemingly went right for New Orleans. Herb Jones had to sit after picking up his second foul not five minutes into the first quarter, with both infractions coming on Durant jumpers. The Pelicans had five turnovers but no fast break points after 12 minutes. And no one could make a shot throughout the first half.
As a team, New Orleans made 34.1% of their field goal attempts before halftime. Only 5 of 18 shots dropped from 3-point range (27.8%). Brandon Ingram was the only Pelican in double figures with 13 points — but he needed 13 shots to reach that total.
At the start of the second half, one hoped to see the Pelicans pride make an earnest appearance because they’ve so rarely let go of the rope this season.
Hey, it did.
Herb nailed a 3-pointer on the first New Orleans possession. Ingram got rolling for a bit. The good play quickly morphed into a 14-2 run, cutting the Pelicans deficit from 28 to 16 points in a mere 3:09 minutes of action.
Unfortunately, the margin never inched closer for the rest of the contest.
The Nets regained control behind the play of James Harden (27 points, 15 assists, eight rebounds), Patty Mills (21 points, three 3s) and Cam Thomas (20 points, five rebounds). And the Pelicans offense dried up again from about the 2-minute mark of the third quarter to the start of garbage time.
Brandon Ingram finished with 22 points and eight assists, Josh Hart had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Herb Jones and Jonas Valanciunas scored 13 apiece.
The Pelicans drop to 1-7 in road contest against the Eastern Conference, but two more such games remain on this road trip.
Up next, the Pelicans travel to Boston to face the Celtics in an early 11:30 a.m. MLK matinee.