The New Orleans Pelicans fell 124-121 to the Atlanta Hawks in the first extra period, dropping their record to 0-3 in overtime games on the season.
They have four losses overall.
One should assume that overtimes must be avoided at all costs moving forward.
With 4:52 remaining in regulation, playing extra basketball wasn’t on anybody’s mind. The Pelicans were trailing 103-90 and appeared destined to leave in defeat well before the final buzzer.
However, New Orleans went on a 19-4 run to shockingly grab the lead, buoyed by a steady relentlessness not evidenced through the first 43 minutes.
Zion Williamson and Herb Jones carried the scoring, Brandon Ingram provided the playmaking, and everyone on the court gave great effort which resulted in Trae Young going 0-5 from the field during this stretch.
Were it not for Dejounte Murray pull-up jumper from about 17 feet with 4.8 seconds left, the Pelicans would have in all probability left Atlanta victorious.
Still armed with a chance to win in regulation, Ingram missed a tough fall-away from 10 feet.
Similar in last Sunday’s loss to the Lakers, the Pelicans were not able to gain good traction for much of the overtime period, but surprisingly, they did have a chance to knot up the score despite trailing by six points with 12.5 seconds remaining.
After Jones converted an And-1 on a putback, “Not on Herb” got his hand on an Atlanta inbounds pass out of a timeout, deflecting the ball away from Young and to a teammate. As Ingram was about to raise up for a pull-up 3 in transition, the ball was knocked out of his hands and out of bounds.
The ball was inbounded to Devonte’ Graham. In real time, it initially appeared that he drew a shooting foul on a 3-point attempt. However, Scott Foster seemed to overrule that call on the floor quickly, instead giving possession to the Hawks because he saw Graham’s foot step out of bounds at some point.
If the moment sounds confusing, it was. The play was not reviewed by officials and then the Bally Sports New Orleans broadcast didn’t show a great angle on replay to provide clear proof one way or the other. Not a satisfying feeling for fans to say the least.
CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson each scored a season-high 29 points.
The Pelicans point guard got hot early and his jumper remained deadly throughout. He knocked down four 3-pointers, grabbing 10 rebounds to boot.
Williamson, on the other hand, did his best work in the second half. However, he was forced to leave the game at the 1:12 mark of overtime due to cramps.
In addition to his 29 points, Zion had eight rebounds, four assists but seven turnovers.
Brandon Ingram, in an off-shooting performance, finished with 16 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
Conversely, Herb Jones finished with his best line of the season: 19 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points and 17 rebounds in 26 minutes of action.
New Orleans’ bench was outplayed by Atlanta’s, getting outscored 25-15.
While this game went down to the wire, the outcome could have resulted differently for any number of reasons.
For the vast majority of the action, the Pelicans had no rhythm. There were times when the help defense was absolutely nowhere to be found. And New Orleans lost the fast break points (22-14) and points off turnovers battles (23-16) decisively.
It didn’t help matters that Atlanta was significantly better from the free throw line too.
The haze in which the Pelicans seemed to play in for large parts of the game could be written off to the difficulty of the schedule. After a three-game road trip out West, the Pelicans went home briefly, hosting the Warriors last night. They didn’t arrive in Atlanta until after 2:00 am this morning.
So, it wasn’t exactly ideal circumstances for New Orleans’ second night of a back-to-back.
But we’re not here to make excuses. To become one of the best teams in the league, you have to fight through all sorts of adversity.
While the Pelicans have certainly never quit in any game, a little more fight, slightly stronger focus or perhaps the coaching staff pushing different buttons in certain instances could have this team noticeably higher in the standings.
One thing’s for certain, the New Orleans Pelicans have to start winning some of these close games if they want to secure a spot in the playoffs without needing to go through the play-in tournament again.
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