The shorthanded New Orleans Pelicans couldn’t hold on to a big lead as they dropped a 106-98 decision to the Atlanta Hawks at the Philips Arena on Wednesday night.
The Pelicans gave up 59 second-half points after taking a nine-point lead into halftime as they fell to 1-7 on the season, including 0-4 on the road. They were able to hang around without the services of starters Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday, thanks to a great shooting performance from beyond the arc. They converted on 14 of 29 attempts from beyond the arc, including a 4 for 6 outing from Eric Gordon.
Al Horford and Paul Millsap led the way for the Hawks who improved to 8-2 on the season. Horford had 26 points on 11 for 15 shooting from the floor, including 4 for 6 from 3-point land to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks while Millsap managed 19 points, a game-high 16 rebounds and three steals.
Jeff Teague added a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists while Dennis Schroder registered 12 points on a 50 percent shooting night from 3-point land with four assists and two rebounds off the bench.
Gordon and Ish Smith carried the load for New Orleans in the loss. Gordon totaled 26 points on 10 for 20 shooting from the field with three rebounds, three assists and two steals while Smith recorded 18 points on 10 for 17 shooting from the floor with 10 assists and five rebounds.
Ryan Anderson chipped in with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Toney Douglas had 12 points on the strength of a 3 for 7 shooting night from beyond the arc with four assists and two steals off the bench.
Even though only 10 players were available for the Pelicans, Jimmer Fredette didn’t see the floor in his second game with the team.
Up next for Fredette and New Orleans is the second game off a huge three-game road trip as they head to Toronto to face off against the Raptors on Friday night. Toronto is first place in the Atlantic division of the Eastern Conference with a record of 6-3 after a 119-103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Raptors are led by the starting back court of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan is a dynamic wing scorer who can get to the paint and draw plenty of fouls. On the season, he is averaging 21.4 points on the strength of shooting 82 percent from the free-throw line in 9.8 attempts a game.
Lowry is the floor general on offense and a solid on-ball defender. He is putting up 19.3 points on 38.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc to go along with a team-high 6.8 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals.
The other two big scoring threats are Jonas Valanciunas and free-agent acquisition DeMarre Carroll. Valanciunas is best with his back to the basket and is averaging 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds. While Carroll hasn’t shot the ball well to start the season (34.2 percent) he still makes an impact on both ends of the floor. He is averaging 12.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals in 35.7 minutes in his six games.