The New Orleans Pelicans lost their top two players as well as their home opener on Sunday night. On Monday, they announced that one — All-Star forward Brandon Ingram — has entered the concussion protocol.
There was no timetable announced for Ingram’s return and it remained unclear whether Zion Williamson (bruised hip) would be available Tuesday night when the Pelicans host the Dallas Mavericks.
“They’re a little banged up,” coach Willie Green said after practice Monday. The same is true of starting forward Herbert Jones, who has a sore knee and fouled out of Sunday’s 122-121 overtime loss to the Jazz.
Green originally said Ingram, who collided with teammate Naji Marshall in the second quarter, was not in the league’s concussion protocol, but that “we’ll continue to monitor him to see how he is.” A few hours later, the team announced that the fifth-year player out of Duke was placed in the protocol.
Williamson fell hard to the court in the fourth quarter, a situation which Green said, “could have been much worse.”
Even with the absences, the Pelicans fought back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit and were one defensive stop from remaining unbeaten through three games this season, but Kelly Olynyk’s driving basket with 3.1 seconds left in overtime provided Utah’s winning points.
CJ McCollum scored 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“He took over,” guard Jose Alvarado said of McCollum. “He did what he does. We needed his leadership. He did his part. Now we have to do our part.”
New Orleans’ comeback was fueled by its defense, which held the Jazz scoreless for more than six minutes and allowed just five points in the final 7:25 of the fourth quarter.
“We played more of our style in the fourth quarter,” Green said. “We played tough and gritty and contested shots. We just waited a while to get started.”
The Mavericks didn’t wait at all to get started in their home opener Saturday, building a 39-17 lead after one quarter and rolling to a 137-96 victory over Memphis.
Luka Doncic, who scored or assisted on Dallas’ first 20 points, finished with 32 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds despite sitting out the fourth quarter with the victory in hand.
“It’s important to start good,” Doncic said. “Last year, a couple games we didn’t start good in the playoffs. That’s why I want to improve that this year.”
The Mavericks improved on maintaining a big lead compared to their season opener, when they squandered a 22-point lead and fell in Phoenix, 107-105.
“We harped on it at halftime,” said Christian Wood, who had 25 points and 12 rebounds against Memphis. “We blew a (big) lead in Phoenix. We didn’t want that again. Mentally, we were great.”
Coach Jason Kidd said he was pleased with how his team responded in the wake of the opening loss.
“I thought it was a carryover from the last game,” Kidd said. “The guys paid attention to the details that we talked about, learned from our mistakes, which happen during a season.
“And Luka and those guys set the tone in the first quarter by paint touches. In the two games, he’s gotten off to a good start in both, being able to find the open guys. I think he’s mixed up the threes with the paint touches and getting to the rim. He’s playing the game at a different level right now.”
–Field Level Media