NEW ORLEANS -- The game between the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans was postponed Wednesday night after nearly two-hour delay because of a roof leak that briefly allowed rain water to puddle near one of the foul lines.
While Smoothie King Center crews fashioned a fabric catch basin in the rafters to stop water from dripping on the court, Pacers coach Nate McMillan said coaches and players on both teams didn't want to risk an injury in the event the make-shift fix didn't hold up for the duration of Wednesday night's game.
"It's not a chance you want to take," McMillan said. "Both coaches went out and looked at the floor and looked at the conditions and just really felt that you didn't want to take a chance of these players going out there playing on the floor with the possibility of a leak happening in the course of a 2 1/2-hour game in an area where there's going to be a lot of action right around the free throw line.
"All it takes is one spot for a player to slip on," McMillan added. "Mentally, guys really wouldn't have been able to go out there and play, knowing that situation."
A number of fans left before a public address announcement was made that the game would not be played. Many of those who remained booed.
Officials have not yet announced when the game will be made up.
Rain fell on and off throughout the day in New Orleans, but water on the court did not appear to be an issue during warmups.
Smoothie King Center general manager Alan Freeman said the source of the leak was difficult to determine without inspecting the roof at another time, so the catch basin was the only possible solution for game night.
Freeman says the leak was causing water to run down to a ring of hanging speakers and then drip down to the court.
However, no one noticed a problem until about 30 minutes before the scheduled 7 p.m. tip-off.
Initially, officials announced that tip would be moved to 7:30, but even after the court was dry, there were no signs of players coming out for a 10-minute warm-up that was supposed to take place before the delayed start of the game. Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis came out alone at one point and inspected the area where water had fallen.
"It's a tough, tough situation to have to do it, but it was the safest thing to do," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "After looking at several things and looking at the roof and evaluating it, I think they came to a conclusion it's just not worth risking players' health."
Gentry on the NBA postponing tonight’s game pic.twitter.com/fFvPO0aHut— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 8, 2018
The Pelicans dance team and mascots tried to entertain fans for the better part of two hours.
New Orleans resident Ken Carter, who had seats two rows behind the visitor's bench, said he was disappointed but understood the decision.
"These athletes work very, very hard to get themselves in shape to put on a great performance and it would be wrong to endanger their careers just for one night," Carter said.
The Pelicans issued a written statement saying tickets for the postponed game would be honored when the game is made up. The club has not yet announced plans to offer refunds.