Magic top short-handed Pelicans in OT
When you play any game without not one, not two but your top three players, the expected result is to lose.
While the Pelicans were playing a poor Orlando squad Thursday night at Smoothie King Center, it was a lot to ask to overcome the Magic without Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.
Williamson had a sprained thumb, Ingram had a right first MTP irritation while Ball remains out with a strained right hip flexor.
Still, the Pelicans had the lead going to the fourth quarter and had a four-point lead in overtime with just over a minute left but brutal turnovers, a key missed free throw and the lack of a closer killed them when it mattered most in a 115-110 overtime loss.
When you turn the ball over 24 times, resulting in 36 points, you are not going to win.
Frankly, it was surprising that New Orleans was close, much less had a chance to win, given those brutal numbers.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker did a good job but with the game on the line, he air-balled a 3-pointer, missed a key 3-pointer and missed a key free throw.
Still, the Pelicans would not have had a chance without Alexander-Walker, who finished with 31 points, eight rebounds and three assists, though he did commit five turnovers.
New Orleans lost despite outscoring Orlando 36-15 from 3-point range and despite outrebounding the Magic 55-49.
James Johnson debuted with New Orleans and distinguished himself quite well.
Johnson actually got the start and had 17 points, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, in 28 minutes.
Josh Hart had 14 points and 17 rebounds, tying his career high in that category, but had five turnovers.
New Orleans is now 0-3 without Williamson this season.
When asked after the game if any of the big three may possibly play Friday night at home against Atlanta, Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said he had no idea.
That is especially concerning, given the heavy minutes played by key players Thursday night.
Hart played 47 minutes, Eric Bledsoe went 46 minutes, Alexander-Walker logged 39 minutes and Steven Adams was on the floor for 37 minutes. All will be needed in a big way against the Hawks. Van Gundy used just eight players Thursday night.
The good news for the Pelicans is that the Hawks had to labor through a double overtime victory over San Antonio Thursday night and had to travel to New Orleans overnight.
It was hard to watch at times with the turnovers and sloppy play but that is what you had to expect with the players who were playing.
Newly acquired Wes Iwundu logged 20 minutes and had seven points with four rebounds.
In the final analysis, it is all about results and though the Pelicans had every excuse on this night, as the saying goes, excuses are for losers and the Pelicans lost.
It really is that simple, sadly.
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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…