They went from doing so much right to not being able to get out of their own way, all the while showing a dogged grit and determination throughout.
The New Orleans Pelicans fell 100-96 to the Miami Heat because, despite a valiant effort put forth, they suddenly started committing far and away too many errors and couldn’t clean up their performance in time.
Oh, and a botched five-second call by the referees felt like some devilish cherry on top.
The Pelicans finished with 25 turnovers, a new season-high, leading to 28 points for the Heat. That offset New Orleans’ dominance in the two categories early, before they settled for 31 points off 22 Miami turnovers.
More than 21 minutes into the game, the Pelicans had racked up six turnovers to the Heat’s 13. They had a 19-6 edge in points off turnovers. They led 47-31 on the scoreboard. They then proceeded to turn the ball over six times within a 2:37 minute span. That trend unfortunately carried into the second half.
“Once again, you’ve got to play for 48 minutes,” Willie Green said. “Our guys know we have to play for 48 minutes. We were kind of carving them up on both ends of the floor and then we finished the second quarter with six turnovers. That gave them life, and from then on, now it’s an uphill battle. This is not a team you want to give life to.”
What particularly stings about all the miscues, there were a number of Pelicans who left everything out there on the court.
Trey Murphy, Herb Jones and Larry Nance Jr. ripped multiple steals. CJ McCollum was slapping the ball out of bounds and bumping Miami cutters through the lane. Jonas Valanciunas dominated the glass with 16 rebounds. Even Devonte’ Graham tied his career-high for steals with five and had several other deflections. But the rookie impressed the most.
Dyson Daniels finished with a line of 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. He did a little bit of everything. He racked up some nice dimes early as the Pelicans exploited the Heat in the middle of the floor and then contributed elsewhere.
“I love watching Dyson play,” Nance said. “I feel like he’s all that. I honestly looked at the box score after the game and saw he had two steals. That didn’t feel right. It felt like he had about six or seven of them. He’s just kind of everywhere.
“On the offensive end, he’s just so multi-faceted. Obviously, can score a little bit, rebounds — which is huge for us — switches defensively, the way he can pass, see the court. He’s only going to get better. ... I told him the other day, he’s going to be really, really, really good. He’s going to be a really good basketball player. We just have to let him learn and grow.”
Daniels never quit fighting, even after a terrible call by Bill Kennedy with seconds remaining.
Following that poor judgement by the official, Daniels tied up Jimmy Butler on Miami’s inbounds pass. He then won the jump ball. Unfortunately, McCollum missed a 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds left on New Orleans’ ensuing offensive possession.
Kennedy explained his rationale in the pool report.
Pool report from today’s game.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) January 22, 2023
Kennedy says the inbounds play took 5.2 seconds so the violation was called correctly. pic.twitter.com/u0YnJtLENr
That doesn’t make any sense. The referee claims he was right because 5.2 seconds had elapsed, but at the time of the play, he didn’t know that. The NBA’s archaic rules apply: counts are done manually by referees with arm motions.
Hindsight gets no say, regardless if it results in the correct call per se. He had failed in his duty to adhere to prescribed outlines. Daniels asked for a timeout before the referee had finished counting. Plain and simple.
For what it’s worth, here’s a textbook example.
The Pelicans obviously didn’t lose the game on that play alone. Daniels’ brilliance gave them another chance. But they failed to take advantage.
This defeat marks four straight losses, nine in their last 12. There are three teams ahead of New Orleans in the standings, with another six behind them sitting three games or less in back.
In perhaps the best news of the day, Green reported in pregame that Brandon Ingram went through 5 on 5 during yesterday’s practice. Getting him back sometime during the upcoming three-game home stand could be the perfect elixir for a team that’s striving to break their losing ways.