Heat slip past Pelicans, 100-96
The effort was good, the defense was good but when it mattered most, the offense struggled again without its stars for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The result was a 100-96 loss Sunday afternoon at Miami to the Heat.
Miami had destroyed the Pelicans 124-98 earlier in the week in New Orleans.
This time, the Pelicans defended in much more efficient fashion and led much of the way, much like the game in Orlando Friday night.
Once again, the Pelicans lost it in the fourth quarter.
With the game on the line, the Pelicans simply failed offensively.
Larry Nance Jr. made a layup with 1:08 to play to cut the deficit to 97-96.
After New Orleans got a stop, rookie Dyson Daniels committed a crucial turnover with 15 seconds remaining.
Victor Oladipo then split a pair of free throws to make it 98-96.
Then, the Pelicans failed again, committing a turnover, unable inbound the basketball, committing a 5-second violation.
Still, the Pelicans had a shot as Daniels redeemed himself, coming up with a turnover by Kyle Lowry.
With 7.1 seconds left, the best player got the ball and got a clean look from the left angle of the top of key.
Unfortunately, CJ McCollum missed what could have been a game winning shot, Oladipo rebounded, was fouled and put the game away with two made free throws.
New Orleans started very well, taking a 32-23 lead after one quarter. New Orleans built a 16-point lead in the second quarter then became stagnant, unable to score, but still maintained a 47-41 lead at halftime. New Orleans held onto a 72-69 lead entering the final quarter when the Pelicans were outscored 32-24.
New Orleans had balanced scoring with six players in double figures, led by Trey Murphy with 17 points. Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 16 rebounds while McCollum scored just 13 points as the focal point of the Heat defensive effort. Lanny Nance Jr. had 12 points, Daniels had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Herb Jones finished with 11 points.
The Pelicans made just 8 of 30 attempts from 3-point range (26%) and did a very poor job taking care of the ball and getting shots, committing 25 turnovers. New Orleans was outscored 22-14 at the free throw line. Miami turned the 25 New Orleans turnovers into 28 points.
The loss was the fourth straight for New Orleans (26-21) and the ninth loss in 12 games.
The good news is the Pelicans come home Tuesday.
The bad news is the Pelicans host the best team in the West and the hottest team in the NBA in Denver.
The Nuggets are 33-13 and have won nine straight games.
Once again, the short-handed Pelicans simply came up short on the offensive end of the floor. There simply isn’t anything Willie Green can do to amend the issue until either Brandon Ingram or Zion Williamson returns.
Then again, it would be nice to have both back on the floor.
While we may see that again sometime soon, the swoon continues and 35 games remain in the current season for the Pelicans, holding the fourth spot in the West in fragile fashion.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…