Here's how the New Orleans Pelicans came away with the most improbable of losses

The New Orleans Pelicans should have walked out of Saturday night’s contest against the Phoenix Suns with a victory.

New Orleans had the ball, up three, with 7.7 seconds to go. It was as close to a slam dunk as you can get in the NBA.

Inpredictable, a site that calculates NBA win probabilities in games, had the Pelicans with a 99.1 percent chance of coming away with a victory after securing the rebound and calling a timeout with seven seconds to play.

But that timeout was the last New Orleans had, and it ended up being important.

When the wild overtime period was finished, the Pelicans were stunned as the Suns left town with an improbable 138-136 victory.

Elfrid Payton was inbounding the ball near the Pelicans bench. The Suns did a great job of blocking his vision and Payton attempted to a call a timeout.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry sprinted over to stop Payton from calling the timeout – and avoid a technical foul – but officials stepped in and ruled New Orleans had picked up a five-second count, turning the ball over to Phoenix.

In the final seconds of overtime with the Pelicans up by three, Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov calls for a 5-second violation that gives the Suns the ball as New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry tries to prevent it during the game between the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on Saturday, March 16, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
In the final seconds of overtime with the Pelicans up by three, Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov calls for a 5-second violation that gives the Suns the ball as New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry tries to prevent it during the game between the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on Saturday, March 16, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

On the first inbounds play, New Orleans quickly fouled Devin Booker with 6.5 seconds remaining, using up the team’s final foul.

The Pelicans’ bench tried to signal for the team to use another foul so Phoenix would just shoot two free throws and preserve New Orleans’ lead, but the message didn’t get across.

Josh Jackson ended up getting a clean look at a deep 3-pointer and hit it with 1.1 seconds remaining to tie the game up – presumably to send it to another overtime.

But Gentry signaled for a timeout – just seconds after he told Payton not to call a timeout – and the Pelicans were assessed a technical foul. Booker hit the technical free throw to put Phoenix up one and then Josh Jackson added another to give Phoenix the win.

So, what happened? In his post-game press conference, Gentry took full blame for the late gaffe.

“Oh, I called it,” Gentry said. “That was my mistake. That was on me. I called the timeout, we didn’t have a timeout, and that’s where the technical came from. I thought we had one left. They said we had one left. We didn’t have one left. That was all on me. I’ll take the hit for that one.”

On the previous inbounds play, Payton sheepishly admitted that he didn’t know the timeout situation as he was preparing to throw the ball in.

“I was thinking about calling timeout,” Payton said. “I didn’t know for sure, which is terrible to say, but I didn’t know if we had a timeout left. It’s the truth. I didn’t know if we had a timeout left. The five seconds came before the timeout, though.

“I was informed after that that I didn’t have any timeouts. Everybody was well aware, especially after that play, that we didn’t have any more timeouts.”

Pelicans forward Julius Randle said everything in the final seconds – the timeout situation, not fouling when the bench was yelling to foul – came down to a “miscommunication.”

“Everybody was a little bit confused on the situation so we all just got to do better at knowing time, score, fouls, no fouls, timeouts, no timeouts, because I think it was a little confusion for that,” Randle said.

“It’s not on one person or, you know, anybody. I think it’s us as a collective, as a team. We were all a little bit confused on, you know, what we were doing and we all have to communicate a little bit better.”

It was a stunning loss for New Orleans, a season-high tying sixth in a row. It also erased what was an otherwise stellar night for the Pelicans offensively.

Payton finished with his fourth consecutive triple-double as he had 16 points, a career-high tying 16 assists and 13 rebounds.

He became the eighth player in NBA history to have at least four triple-doubles in a row joining Russell Westbrook, Michael Jordan, James Harden, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and Maurice Stokes.

But after the game, Payton wasn’t particularly stoked about the achievement.

“It’s kind of cool, but you can’t really enjoy it,” Payton said as all four triple-doubles have come in a loss.

New Orleans also finished with 34 assists – tied for the second most the team has had in a loss this season. The Pelicans had nine players finish in double figures as well with Randle leading the way with 21 points.

It’s tough but the great thing about this game is you have another one in two days,” Payton said. “Can’t dwell on it. Have to learn from it and get ready to lace them up.”