Pelicans lost way in fourth quarter in tough loss to Timberwolves
The New Orleans Pelicans had momentum, coming off back-to-back wins over a good Dallas team and defending NBA champion Denver.
Yes, New Orleans was playing its second of a back-to-back scenario. Yes, the Pelicans were without Zion Williamson, sitting out for the second time this season in the latter game of a back-to-back.
Still, the Pelicans were taking the fight to another outstanding Western conference team in Minnesota.
New Orleans had the lead for each of the first three quarters, including a 14-point lead in the final minute of the third quarter and a 10-point lead heading to the fourth quarter.
It meant nothing.
With the game on the line, the Pelicans fell short, failed and the Timberwolves scored a dramatic 121-120 win a Smoothie King Center.
Despite struggling down the stretch in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans had a good chance to win it.
Brandon Ingram, the team’s best player aside from Williamson, had the ball in his hands, poised to be the hero.
Ingram missed a key free throw with 10 seconds remaining. It proved to be the difference.
Trailing 120-119, Minnesota quickly got the ball in the hands of Karl Anthony Towns, who drove left on Dyson Daniels and used his size to go over the smaller Daniels with a bank shot with five seconds left.
New Orleans still had a shot.
You knew the ball was going to Ingram.
It did, he got to a spot he likes in the mid-range, elevated, the shot was on line but he missed and the Pelicans suffered a brutal loss.
New Orleans was outscored 36-25 in the final frame.
Ingram had tied the game at 119-119 with a forced bank shot as time expired on the shot clock with 1:03 to play in the game.
New Orleans was plagued by 17 turnovers.
It was a tough one to swallow as the Pelicans led by as many as 15 points and Minnesota never led by more than two points.
The Timberwolves shot 54 percent from the field, offsetting the 51 percent shooting of the Pelicans.
Ingram led New Orleans with 30 points and had seven rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas was excellent, pumping in 26 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Jordan Hawkins returned to the starting lineup with Williamson sitting out and the rookie scored 15 points. Herb Jones and Dyson Daniels each scored 13 points and Matt Ryan had 10 points.
It was a hard loss to swallow in a game which New Orleans controlled play most of the way and it negated the good feelings of the good performances in the wins over the Mavericks and Nuggets.
With the loss, New Orleans (6-7) fell under .500 again as the longest homestand of the season has been a mixed bag.
The Pelicans host another good Western conference team in Sacramento Monday night in the first of two consecutive games with the Kings.
Williamson will return and Jose Alvarado is close to being back.
While it is early, with the depth of the Western conference, the Pelicans cannot afford to fall much further behind the top teams and cannot afford to lose more games which they control and look the part of winners but cannot finish.
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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…