Pelicans fall just short at Hornets, 106-103
It was too good to be true.
Playing the second of back-to-back road games, the New Orleans Pelicans led virtually the whole way in Charlotte, taking the fight to the Hornets.
That is, until the final two minutes and 12 seconds of the game.
Leading 97-95 at that point, the Pelicans simply ran out of gas.
Charlotte outscored New Orleans 11-6 the rest of the way in a 106-103 victory.
The Pelicans simply could not get a stop when it mattered most and simply fell apart on the offensive end with very few options.
The Hornets concentrated their defensive efforts on CJ McCollum late and simply would not allow him to beat them. McCollum finished with 27 points and six assists.
Charlotte outscored New Orleans 28-19 in the fourth quarter to steal the win.
The only other threat was Jonas Valanciunas, who did all he could with 24 points, 18 rebounds and five assists. Naji Marshall helped with 14 points but there were simply no other offensive options with the game in the balance.
A huge blow for the Pelicans to absorb was Herb Jones being ejected for throwing an elbow with 6:22 to play in the third quarter.
It was a very successful road trip which could have been a great road trip.
Now, the Pelicans return home to host a very good Chicago team Thursday night to open a three-game homestand.
Will Brandon Ingram finally return?
With just 10 games remaining, New Orleans needs him to maintain the tenth spot in the Western Conference and to have a shot at the ninth spot, now held by the Los Angeles Lakers again.
The Lakers moved a game up on the Pelicans with 131-120 win at Cleveland.
Portland moved within 2 ½ games of New Orleans with a 119-115 win over Detroit.
San Antonio is two games back of New Orleans.
It was never going to be easy and it will not be, though it would be a bit easier if Ingram would return.
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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…