Panzura postgame wrap: Hawks 102, Pelicans 99
There were positive developments everywhere Wednesday, including hanging tight for 47-plus minutes with a team that reached the NBA’s “Final Four” last season. Ultimately, New Orleans didn’t quite have enough to complete an upset vs. Atlanta.
In front of a national ESPN audience, the Pelicans were energized early on their home floor, building a double-digit lead, before the Hawks responded to make it anyone’s game in the second half. Atlanta relied on domination on the offensive glass to outlast New Orleans, which went to both of its 2021 draftees to play big minutes in clutch time.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said of the effort. “We fought. We just came up a little short.”
Green added, “No moral victories though for us. We’re all disappointed that we didn’t win this game. We just have to continue to grow together.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Brandon Ingram missed a tough mid-range jumper down by a point as time ticked down, which resulted in Atlanta gaining possession out of bounds. The Hawks got the ball to Trae Young with 1.2 seconds left, who sank two free throws to create the final margin. Devonte’ Graham fired up a shot from beyond halfcourt that caromed off the glass at the buzzer.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Graham’s point total of 21 was solid, but almost underestimated his impact due to the number of big baskets he sank in the fourth quarter. The point guard drilled three three-pointers, putting New Orleans briefly in the lead after it trailed by seven points entering the final 12 minutes. The offseason trade pickup continues to somehow drain off-balance perimeter shots against the 24-second clock, part of his 5/10 three-point shooting night.
BY THE NUMBERS
21: Atlanta offensive rebounds, a huge factor for the visitors that kept many crucial possessions alive.
9: New Orleans offensive rebounds, which is solid, but paled in comparison to what the Hawks did in the category. Atlanta won the overall board stat 55-44.
28: New Orleans bench points. The Pelicans benefited from their best performance of the young season by their reserves, who shot 12/23 from the field.
REVISITING FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME
While building a 14-point first-quarter lead, New Orleans got out and ran often, leading to a few fast-break layups, but as the game progressed, Atlanta made it much more difficult to generate offense. The Pelicans scored 33 first-quarter points but only managed 66 over the last three periods.
PROTECT THE BALL
New Orleans only committed seven turnovers through three quarters, a welcome development after it averaged a league-high 20.3 through the four previous games. The Pelicans had four more in the fourth quarter, but probably would take Wednesday's game total of just 11 every night.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Graham vs. Young was not much of a “head-to-head” battle, because Pelicans forward Herbert Jones drew the Young assignment. Both point guards were difference-makers in crunch time, with Graham nailing big threes and Young making big shots and other plays.
On Wednesday gamedays throughout the season, a Twitter poll will be conducted related in some fashion to the Western Conference and the Pelicans. Prior to the Atlanta game, Pelicans fans overwhelmingly voted for Memphis as New Orleans’ biggest rival in the Southwest Division, giving the Grizzlies nearly 75 percent of ballots as tip-off approached. The one-sided selection of Memphis as top division rival was outlined by @KingzB_53, who wrote “Memphis, only because the fan bases talk so much (trash). Not because of the on-court play since the Pels been stomping em.” The latter note was a reference to NOLA’s 5-1 head-to-head mark vs. Memphis over the last two regular seasons. One throwback vote for the Spurs as biggest Southwest foe came from @RomeyOrlando, who wrote “San Antonio. Game 7 (in the 2008 playoffs, a heartbreaking defeat for New Orleans). Stick to the classics.”