The Pelicans lost a game. The Pelicans lost a player.
The losses on the court are becoming increasingly common — Saturday’s, a 106-94 setback to the Utah Jazz at the Smoothie King Center, was New Orleans’ fourth straight — and the personnel losses are getting downright repetitive.
The latest was a fractured right ring finger for Eric Gordon, the second time this season he’s broken the same finger. The last time, it cost Gordon 16 games. He’d returned four games ago.
Gordon left the game in the second quarter and didn’t return.
The Pelicans, meanwhile, had multiple comebacks in them on Saturday. None were enough to rally past the Jazz, who broke open a tie game with a 14-0 run to close the third quarter and led by as many as 18 points.
The Jazz got 28 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots from Derrick Favors. Gordon Hayward added 24 points, and Rudy Gobert had 18 rebounds.
Anthony Davis had 29 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans. Jrue Holiday had 22 points and seven assists.
New Orleans started the day with good news on the injury front, with center Omer Asik returning to the starting lineup after missing five games with a sprained right ankle.
There weren’t many highlights beyond that.
Davis struggled with his shot in the first half — he was 3 for 17 from the floor — but came to life in the third quarter, making 6 of 11 shots and scoring 15 points. His 3-pointer with 2:50 to play in the third tied the game at 70-70 after the Pelicans had trailed by as many as seven points in the quarter.
But those would be New Orleans’ final points of the quarter. Hayward scored six points in a 14-0 Jazz run to end the quarter, and Trevor Booker’s layup with 4.4 seconds to play gave Utah an 84-70 lead entering the fourth.
The Pelicans dropped to 23-38 with the loss. They fell seven games behind the Houston Rockets in the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, and three teams sit between New Orleans and Houston.
The Jazz got off to a fast start Saturday, but a pair of Davis free throws tied the game at 14-14 with 4:01 to play in the first quarter, but the Jazz made their last six shots of the quarter and closed on a 15-6 run to take a 29-20 lead after one.
That lead grew as large as 14 in the second quarter, when Rodney Hood’s 3-pointer with 10:35 to play put Utah in front 34-20.
Even as Davis continued to struggle, the Pelicans whittled away at the lead. Holiday’s layup with 3:30 to play in the second quarter capped a 19-9 run that pulled New Orleans to within four at 43-39, and the Pelicans trailed 51-45 at halftime despite the 3-for-17 shooting half from Davis.
Gordon had seven points, two assists and two blocked shots in 11 minutes before leaving the game in the second quarter. The Pelicans announced in the third that he’d again fractured the right ring finger that he initially broke in a Jan. 19 game against Minnesota.
It’s the latest in a string of injuries for the Pelicans, who have missed 187 player games to injury and illness this season. That included four on Saturday.
Guards Tyreke Evans and Bryce Dejean-Jones and forward Quincy Pondexter are out for the season, and center Alexis Ajinca missed his second straight game with a fractured sternum.
“I know all the five years I’ve been here, we’ve had a crazy amount of injuries every single year,” Gordon said last week. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve never had a surgery or anything until I got here. It’s the craziest thing I’ve seen.”