Pelicans star Davis ailing as Magic arrive in town
NEW ORLEANS — The Orlando Magic are finishing their longest road trip of the season against a New Orleans Pelicans team that just concluded its longest trip of the season.
The Magic (17-26) are 1-4 on their current trip after a 125-112 loss at Denver on Monday. They face the Pelicans (16-26) on Wednesday night in the Smoothie King Center and New Orleans finished 2-3 on its trip after a 98-95 loss at Indiana on Monday.
Both the Magic, 12th in the Eastern Conference and 4 1/2 games out of eighth, and the Pelicans, 11th in the Western Conference and 1 1/2 games out of eighth, are trying to remain relevant to the playoff race as the second half of the season gets going.
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If Orlando is going to do what New Orleans couldn’t do and finish its road trip with a victory, it will have to play better defense than it played against the Nuggets.
“They got going early and everybody pretty much had a rhythm throughout the game,” said guard Elfrid Payton, who led seven Orlando players in double figures by scoring 20 points.
Denver took control with a 16-2 run during the third quarter. It finished with a 58.4 field-goal percentage and 76 points in the paint, both season-highs for a Magic opponent.
“Our defense sucked pretty much,” Magic forward Jeff Green told the Orlando Sentinel. “We can’t allow a team like that who are already known for scoring a lot of points to get in a groove like they were in.”
This game starts a six-game homestand, New Orleans’ longest of the season.
All-Star forward Anthony Davis left the game against Indiana after taking a hard fall in the third quarter and did not return. X-rays were negative and he’s listed as questionable for the game against Orlando because of a right hip contusion and a left thumb sprain. He had 16 points despite missing the final 19 minutes against the Pacers.
Even without Davis, New Orleans had a chance to end the road trip with a winning record.
The Pelicans overcame a 16-point deficit to pull even at 91 with 4:10 left and had three chances to tie or take the lead in the last half minute, but failed on each.
“Davis going down obviously took some momentum away,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said, “but I think our guys regrouped and kept us hanging in there and put us in a position to win.”
With Indiana leading 97-95, Jrue Holiday missed a jumper with 19.9 seconds left and E-Twuan Moore missed a runner from the lane. With Indiana up three, Tyreke Evans missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We played well, well enough to win,” Moore said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win. We were down, fought our way back. We had good shots at the end, but just didn’t convert.”
Orlando has won the last four meetings with the Pelicans, including an 89-82 triumph Nov. 16 in Orlando. Davis missed that game because of a quad contusion and Holiday had not yet made his season debut as he stayed with his wife, who had undergone brain surgery.
Magic guard Evan Fournier (right heel soreness) is expected to miss his third consecutive game.