In a game they needed to win to preserve their faint postseason hopes, the New Orleans Pelicans threw out a skeleton crew.
Four of their usual starters were unavailable. Lonzo Ball was ruled out with a right thumb strain. Zion Williamson (finger fracture) and Brandon Ingram (ankle sprain) missed their fourth consecutive games, while Steven Adams (right MTP sprain) missed his fifth straight game.
Without them, the Pelicans and their patchwork lineups got torched. They allowed 45 points in the second quarter en route to a 125-107 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday at American Airlines Center.
The loss officially ended the Pelicans’ hopes of qualifying for the Western Conference play-in tournament. They will miss the playoffs for a third consecutive year.
Mavericks star Luka Doncic breezed his way to a 33-point, eight-assist night. New Orleans had no answers defending Doncic in the pick and roll.
After the first quarter, New Orleans only trailed by two. But once the second quarter started, the game quickly got out of hand.
The Mavericks went on a 26-5 run to begin the second quarter. With 33.4 seconds remaining in the first half, Doncic hit a step-back 3, which extended Dallas’ lead to 22 points.
“We had trouble on the pick and roll game,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Luka was shooting the ball. Then we tried to trap him, and they picked that apart. We tried to switch some, and he picked…