The roof on the Smoothie King Center made national news Wednesday night.
A leak forced the postponement of the Pelicans game against the Indiana Pacers and sent the schedule in flux. Now, both teams and the NBA are attempting to piece together a make-up date that fits not only in both schedules, but on a night the arena is unoccupied.
It wasn’t a loss. It was literally a lost game.
Those who choose not to get their tickets refunded by the Pelicans can use them on the make-up date, and Mercedes-Benz Superdome parking will be free as well.
“We don’t know about the rescheduling part, since they haven’t said anything yet,” coach Alvin Gentry said Thursday. “As far as the arena, it’s just one of those deals. They talked about it as being the most durable substance that they had, so it’s just a fluke thing that happened.
“I find it ironic we have a roofing convention coming to town. But, it’s just unfortunate and it’s one of those things that happen. Now, we have to look into the rescheduling of the game and when that can be done.”
It’s not the first time the NBA has been put in this circumstance in recent years. Games in Philadelphia and Sacramento have both been delayed because of condensation on the hardwood, forcing a postponement.
It is, however, the first time it’s occurred in New Orleans. And several players said they’ve never experienced anything like it.
If you were one of the unfortunate number to sit through the rain delay, the Pelicans have provided some clarity on what to do next.
“It was different,” Jrue Holiday said. “But there was water on the court and at one point there was a lot of it. And, I’ve actually had a teammate before who got hurt because of something like that, so it’s just not fun or fun to think about.”
Holiday admitted there was initial pressure to play the game, but after the delay moved past an hour he didn’t expect for either team to ready to take the floor.
“Mentally, you are just in a different place,” he said.
Before the leak, the Pelicans were in the process of adjusting their starting lineup, replacing point guard Rajon Rondo for the first time this season. The plan was to shift Holiday onto the ball and insert DeAndre Liggins onto the wing.
After a string of sluggish starts in either the first or third quarter, Gentry recognized the need to shake up the lineups to see if it provided a boost.
“What we are asking Jrue to do is really tough,” Gentry said. “We want him to defend their best player and score 20 per game. So, we think this will give him a little relief, so we’ll start Liggins on the best perimeter player and maybe it will give Jrue a break.”
The Pelicans also hope Rondo can kick-start the bench lineup with his playmaking and passing skills, since it’s struggled since DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the season.
Gentry said Rondo accepted the decision without conflict, despite protesting similar moves earlier in his career.
“He was great,” Gentry said. “He said he will do anything. This isn’t anything set in stone. We are trying to figure it out, and there’s so many things happening with the DeMarcus Cousins thing we are trying to piece it together in a way to best suit our team.”
The Pelicans are getting to know Philadelphia Eagles fans very well.
Just a week after playing in Minneapolis on the eve of Super Bowl 52, the Pelicans flew into Philadelphia on the day of the day of the Eagles championship parade.
“I don't think there’s ever been an NBA team that’s had to endure going to the city with the Super Bowl, making us stay outside the city, and then has to deal with parade,”Gentry said through a smile. “Good timing on the schedule.”
To accommodate, the team departed New Orleans later than usual for a road trip and lined up a police escort in case they weren’t able to get through traffic en route to their downtown hotel.
“It’s really something else,” Gentry said.