Pelicans blow late lead, fall at Wizards in OT
Two mediocre teams looked the part, alternating playing well at times and poorly at other times Friday as the Pelicans played the Wizards.
The end result was an evenly played game that went to overtime.
With the game on the line, Zion Williamson made a poor choice with a pass for a turnover in a tie game and then fouled Russell Westbrook with just one second left and Westbrook won it, making the first free throw to put it away. Westbrook scored 10 points in the overtime period.
Washington won the game 117-115.
How it happened is what bothers you if you support the Pelicans.
Williamson had a rough night.
He got into early foul trouble and had to sit, scoring just six points in the first half.
Though he came on in the second half, he struggled down the stretch in regulation and then had the two crucial mistakes in overtime.
Williamson has been terrific for the Pelicans this year. He just wasn’t on this night and this team, given its personnel available and personality, cannot afford anything less than the outstanding version of Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Fortunately, Brandon Ingram picked up the slack, pumping in 24 points to keep New Orleans close at 62-61 at the half.
Williamson returned in the second half and did not pick up his fourth foul until there was just 2:04 remaining in the game.
He would end up fouling out of the game on the foul on Westbrook, the first time he has fouled out in his career.
The Pelicans had a seemingly solid 105-98 lead with just 2:15 to play in the game after Williamson scored.
Then again, you know the Pelicans. They are not tough enough mentally. Simply put, they blew it.
New Orleans went ice cold down the stretch, making just one of their last 13 shots from the field. The Pelicans missed their last four shots, including three by Williamson, who was bothered by the length and shot blocking ability of Daniel Gafford.
New Orleans scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter, failing miserably in ball movement, execution and finishing.
The failure sent the game into overtime tied 105-105.
After the big first half, Ingram was just 2-for-11 in the second half, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range and scored just four points.
In overtime, Ingram awakened, scoring six points.
It was not enough.
Naji Marshall was outstanding again, with career highs in points with 16, in rebounds with 11 and in assists with six. Marshall also had two steals.
Williamson was held to 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting. The playmaker for his team in recent weeks, Williamson had no assists. Ingram finished with 34 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. James Johnson had 11 points off the bench in another solid effort.
Marshall and Johnson are certainly keepers.
New Orleans was outscored 62-50 in the paint, a statistic the Pelicans typically win.
In his return from his latest injury, Lonzo Ball defended well against Bradley Beal but was a liability offensively, scoring just four points on 2-of-11 shooting and a miserable 0-for-7 from 3-point range.
The Pelicans miss Josh Hart and his competitive nature on both ends of the floor. They miss Nickeil Alexander-Walker but excuses are for losers.
Many teams have been missing key players many times in the league this year.
We will continue to hear the youth narrative.
Ball, Bledsoe, Stephen Adams, Ingram and Johnson are veteran players. Bledsoe is now 3-for-23 from 3-point range in his last five games. That’s not good for anyone, much less a guard in the NBA.
If you want to buy into the youth excuse, have at it. I get it.
Regardless of what you are buying, smart stock market investors would be selling stock in the 2020-21 Pelicans season about right now at 25-31 with 16 games left.
Knowing the up-and-down nature of this team, they are likely to surprise us, at some point, down the stretch, but the Knicks are simply a tougher, hungrier, well coached team as we saw this past week.
The Pelicans play the Knicks at New York Sunday. The Knicks beat the Pelicans 116-106 this past Wednesday in New Orleans.
There have been many tough losses for New Orleans this year. There have been several bad losses. This was a bad loss.
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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…