JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The New Orleans Pelicans played well for 24 minutes. They can’t say that about the final 24.
The Pelicans couldn’t hold a 15-point first-half lead as the Atlanta Hawks used a strong second half to post a 103-93 win in a preseason game Friday night at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Pelicans scored the first seven points and led throughout the first half, holding the Hawks to a meager 30.8 percentage from the floor. They held their biggest lead at 49-34 late in the half before allowing Atlanta to score the final eight points.
The second half was a different story as Atlanta started hitting from the outside. The Hawks took their first lead with 4 seconds remaining in the third quarter, then pulled away in the final 12 minutes.
“I was pleased with the first half, but we kind of got a little discombobulated in the second half,” Pelicans first-year coach Alvin Gentry said. “We didn’t really run very much in the second half. I was very pleased but obviously very disappointed with our play in the second half.
“There’s going to be nights when you’re not making shots and you’ve got to be good defensively. We gave up 42 points in the first half but then allowed 62 in the second half. Obviously we can’t have that; we can’t have a let-down like that.”
The Pelicans had just two players in double figures. Anthony Davis looked in midseason form, hitting on 8 of 15 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, to finish with a game-high 20 points. Tyreke Evans, in his first action of the season, came off the bench to add 17 points in 24 minutes.
“Spacing was the key tonight,” Evans said. “I noticed when I drove to the basket they were so spread out that I had easy layups to the basket. I thought we did a good job of taking advantage of our opportunities in the first half. We’ve got to rebound so we can run the floor.”
Gentry rested his starters for much of the second half, including all of the fourth quarter. The Pelicans used 15 players in the game, and all of them scored at least one point.
“We played different lineups, guys that aren’t accustomed to playing with each other. That had a little bit to do with it,” Gentry said of the second-half letdown. “Then we had guys out of position due to the limited number of big guys we had. There was more positive than negative, but there’s still things we still have to work on. We did a good job in moving the ball in the first half against a real quality team. Now we’ve got to make sure we do that for 48 minutes. If not, then you get the results we got.”
The Pelicans return to action Monday at Chicago.