The New Orleans Pelicans’ quest to reach the postseason is over.
The Pelicans were officially eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday afternoon following their 122-113 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. That, paired with the Portland Trail Blazers’ win against the Philadelphia 76ers, officially knocked them out of playoff contention.
New Orleans put up just 19 points in the opening quarter and fell down into a 14-3 hole almost instantly.
"That lack of spirit in the first half really dictates the second half," said Zion Williamson, who dropped 25 points in the loss, via ESPN. "If we came out better, maybe we would've had a different outcome."
Failed to ‘approach it like it was a Game 7’
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said his team was well aware of what was at stake headed into the game on Sunday.
They just simply didn’t show up. And by the time they did — they cut San Antonio’s once 20-point lead to single digits in the fourth quarter — it was just too late.
"We talked about it, and it is a Game 7. We did need to approach it like it was a Game 7," Gentry said, via ESPN. "Obviously, we fell behind early. Defensively, we weren't into the ball early on.
“I don't have an explanation for that. I wish I did. But that's the only way you're going to beat a team like that. You have to be willing to play, you have to execute, and you have to protect the basketball, and those things we struggled with today."
DeMar DeRozan led San Antonio with 27 points in the win. Rudy Gay finished with 19 points off the bench, and Dejounte Murray added 18. The team is now 4-2 inside the NBA’s bubble, and is making a push to reach the play-in series in the Western Conference.
One of New Orleans’ biggest issues in the game was turnovers. They had a horrendous 20, which led to 30 Spurs points.
The loss also snapped JJ Redick’s 13-year playoff streak, too, even after his season-high 31 points — something helped immensely after shooting 8-of-12 from the 3-point line.
"We've had a couple games like that down here for whatever reason," Redick said, via ESPN. "Our group eventually picked it back up and whittled that lead back down to a one-possession game. We just didn't start the game right. For the whole first, to be honest — not just starters, whole first half."
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