Pacers Crush Short Handed Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans dropped their third consecutive game Wednesday night, getting crushed by the Pacers 106-93.
Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson all sat out with injuries. All hope to be back next week following the All-Star break, and the team could certainly use them.
"Ryan, A.D. and Jrue being out had a lot to do with (the team performance), but at the same time we've proven we can without those guys," said New Orleans head coach Monty Williams. "I'm not so sure we felt we could win tonight. That was a bit disheartening."
Also disheartening is how quickly the Pelicans have hurt their position in the playoff hunt. Last Friday, New Orleans defeated Oklahoma City in a thrilling game, and only trailed the Phoenix Suns by a half game for the 8 spot in the Western Conference standings.
Since that victory, Davis has injured his shoulder, Anderson has missed the last two games with an elbow injury, and the Pelicans have dropped 3 straight, two of the three to teams with losing records.
Oklahoma City has won three in a row since losing to New Orleans, and have surpassed the Pelicans in the standings by a game.
"We didn't understand the moment, especially with Phoenix losing last night," explained Williams. "We've got a lot of basketball left in us this season and we're right there in the playoff race. I just didn't think we understood that tonight, collectively."
When asked to expound on not understanding the moment, Williams clarified what area of his team was missing on Wednesday night.
"The mental aspect of the game," he said succinctly.
The game got out of hand early, as the Pelicans were outscored 32-18 in the first quarter. Through the first three quarters, New Orleans shot a paltry 38.9% from the field.
With Indiana resting their starters in the 4th, the Pelicans outscored Indiana 33-17, making the final box score look slightly less lopsided than the game actually was.
Forward Luke Babbitt (pictured) led the Pelicans in scoring, chipping in 15 off the bench. He was arguably the sole bright spot on an otherwise lousy night for the home team.
"Luke has really earned a lot of stripes with us," said Williams. "He just works his butt off everyday and never changes his demeanor."
Alexis Ajinca and Toney Douglas each scored 14 for the Pelicans, while Jeff Withey added 11.
With the loss, the Pelicans fall to 27-26, 10th place in the West.
The team will now get some time off for All-Star break, although Anthony Davis will be in New York for All-Star weekend. He was set to start, but his shoulder injury will keep him from playing, as he released the following statement regarding his status for Sunday's game.
While I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to compete this weekend, I’m still very excited about the opportunity to be a part of the All-Star events in New York and celebrate our game with some of the NBA's greatest figures.
More than anything, I am anxious to get healthy and back on the court with my teammates after the All-Star break.”
New Orleans' next game is a week from Friday, February 20th, in Orlando against Elfrid Payton and the Magic.
If the Pelicans have a relatively healthy squad over the final 29 games, they have the talent to make a run for the 8 spot, though the Thunder are the front-runner to earn it based on their play of late, along with the health of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.