From: New Orleans Advocate
Number of sources: Two
Word Count: 630
Date of Publication: October 20, 2016
ORLANDO, Fla. — The New Orleans Pelicans’ preseason ended in heartbreak Thursday night, when the team squandered a 23 point lead, giving up a 114-111 win to the Orlando Magic in overtime at Amway Center. It was the Pelicans’ fifth loss in a row.
“We played a little selfish basketball,” coach Alvin Gentry said.
“You gotta lock in, you gotta come up with that big stop at the end.”
Despite the loss, there was still some good news for the Pelicans, as star power forward Anthony Davis, who missed the team’s last game, returned to the starting lineup, finishing with 33 points and 13 rebounds on 44 percent shooting.
“He started out great,” Gentry said.
“He was very active offensively but also very active defensively.”
The Pelicans also got back guard E’Twaun Moore, who missed the team’s last game with a heel contusion, and Gentry, who was out with stomach illness. However, the bolstered lineup was not enough to earn a win on the road.
Davis got off to a very hot start in the first quarter, scoring or assisting on the Pelicans’ first five baskets and making jump shots over defenders Serge Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic with ease. He finished the quarter with 16 points and five rebounds as New Orleans jumped out to a 38-22 lead on 52 percent shooting.
“I thought we started the game, you know, great,” Gentry said.
“We had great ball movement, I thought we were really active defensively.”
Davis continued to carry the offensive load through the rest of the second half, getting to the rim for several big dunks and continuing to facilitate the offense, dishing out a couple of assists. Despite leading by 23 at one point, The Pelicans gave up a 14-2 run towards the end of the second quarter, cutting their lead to 62-50 at halftime.
The Pelicans got off to a slow start in the second half, allowing the Magic to get back into the game as both teams’ scoring dropped off sharply. The Pelicans only made 36 percent of their shots in the third quarter and went 2 for 6 from behind the arc.
A pair of threes from Evan Fournier cut the Pelicans’ lead to six towards the end of the quarter, but Terrence Jones was able to score a couple quick baskets, building New Orleans’ lead back to 85-75 going into the fourth quarter.
Jones had a major impact off the bench, scoring 24 points in 29 minutes.
“I worked hard this offseason to try to come in and be aggressive,” Jones said.
“I’ve always been one of those players, whether I’m starting or not starting, just to try to come in and do the best (I can.)”
Despite the 10-point advantage, the Pelicans were not able to hold onto the lead, as the Magic outscored them 30-10 in the fourthh quarter. The Pelicans had a chance to win, when they inbounded the ball with less than 3 seconds left. Buddy Hield took the shot but it was no good, and the game headed to overtime.
“We weren’t as aggressive defensively,” Gentry said.
“We started doing some individual things offensively.”
The Pelicans once again got off to a slow start in overtime, committing two early turnovers and allowing the Magic to score six unanswered points. New Orleans eventually fought back to tie the game, but Elfrid Payton took the lead for Orlando off a layup with 19 seconds to go.
The Pelicans were then forced to intentionally foul Mario Hezonja, who missed the second free throw, giving the Pelicans one last chance with 3 seconds left and no timeouts. Jones heaved the ball from midcourt as time expired, but it was no good.
This game wrapped up New Orleans’ preseason where they finished with a 1-5 record, the worst in the Western Conference. The Pelicans will open the 2016-17 season at home against the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 26.