It’s not uncommon, at least in the NBA regular season, for the absence of a team’s star player to result in a better rather than worse performance by the teammates left behind. Most coaches will tell you it has to do with other players stepping into the void, getting more opportunities, mixed with a bit of desperation.
But the New Orleans Pelicans rallied on the fly, without any advance knowledge or prep time in knowing their best player wouldn’t be around. All-Star Anthony Davis was lost early in the first quarter of the Pelicans’ game against Indiana Friday night at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, injuring his back and heading to the locker room after diving over front-row seats while saving the ball inbounds.
The Pacers led 7-6 when Davis exited at 8:39 of the first quarter. But New Orleans outscored them 24-9 the rest of the period to lead 30-16 heading into the second quarter. The departure of the 6-foot-10, 253-pound big man, averaging 23.5 points and 11.2 rebounds, caused social media to erupt, given the daily fantasy implications of Davis’ injury Friday. But even as the first half ticked away, the shorthanded Pelicans were hanging onto a lead.