The Pelican Blog

Eric Gordon shoots a layup over Indiana center Roy Hibbert in Wednesday's season opener

Pelicans.com postgame: Pacers 95, Pelicans 90

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Leading for virtually the entire night in the first-ever New Orleans Pelicans regular season game, the hosts couldn’t hold off the more experienced Pacers late, losing a hard-fought season opener in front of a sellout crowd.

New Orleans fans who attended the official debut of the Pelicans witnessed an outstanding first half by their team, resulting in a 50-36 intermission lead. Behind another big performance vs. New Orleans by All-Star swingman Paul George, Indiana methodically chipped away at its deficit from there. George finished with 32 points, sparking the Pacers in their come-from-behind victory. Indiana (2-0) outscored New Orleans (0-1) by a 59-40 margin in the second half.

After a rough stretch for the Pelicans in the third quarter, they seemed to regain the momentum and took a 72-63 lead with nine-plus minutes remaining. However, the Pacers managed to score a whopping 32 points in the final 9:26. Indiana won for the second straight night after defeating Orlando on Tuesday.

“They had 36 points in the fourth quarter,” New Orleans center Jason Smith said. “We can’t allow that to happen. Especially against a team that played the night before. They’re a playoff team, a tested team. We’ve got to play better.”

“We’ve got to learn how to execute better down the stretch,” said Anthony Davis, who began his second NBA season with 20 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

George authored a 37-point eruption against New Orleans last season on Nov. 21, a game in which the Eastern Conference All-Star went 9-for-13 from three-point range, his career high for treys in a game. The athletic and skilled George again nailed several deep three-pointers over the top of the New Orleans defense.

The Pelicans finished Wednesday at just 40 percent from the field and forced the issue several times in key moments of the fourth quarter. Jrue Holiday excelled in his Pelicans debut, scoring 24 points while adding seven rebounds and five assists. Fellow starting guard Eric Gordon led New Orleans with 25 points, but beyond Davis and the first-string guards, the Pelicans struggled offensively. The balance of the roster was a combined 10-for-28 from the field.

“The Pacers took the game,” Monty Williams said. “I just didn’t think we had an understanding of the moment in the fourth quarter. Some our possessions were just vanilla where we just jacked up a couple shots that the guys who took the shots probably thought to themselves, ‘I could’ve got something better.' That will happen. Once we understand the moment and how to play in those playoff-type atmospheres (we will improve).”