NBA Briefs: Pelicans incredible choke; Westbrook's nightmare night; Nuggets on verge of ending playoff drought

The New Orleans Pelicans have blown a near certain victory with a run of stunning brain explosions against the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns won 138-136 but with 7.7 seconds left, the Pelicans led 136-133 — and had the ball.

Neither side had any time-outs left.

The Pelicans needed to inbound the ball and would likely have taken a foul and would have iced the game.

Instead, the Pelicans were called for a five-second violation after New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry stopped Elfrid Payton from calling a time-out.

It handed the Suns the ball and they scored a clutch three-pointer to make it 136-all.

But then in a huge brain snap Gentry called a time-out with 1.1 seconds left looking to advance his side down the court, but neither side had a time-out left.

In the NBA, that’s a technical foul, with the Suns slotting the free-throw and then being fouled again for the two-point loss.

New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry took the blame.

New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry took the blame.Source:AP

The commentators couldn’t believe it.

“If they get a technical and didn’t get a foul, what a way to lose. Oh my goodness.”

“That is a gift, an absolute gift.

NBA win predictor site Inpredictable had the Pelicans win percentage at 99.1 per cent when the nightmare began.

“Oh, I called it,” Gentry said. “That was my mistake. That was on me. I called the time-out, we didn’t have a time-out, 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.”

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Social media was savage on the bizarre loss.

WESTBROOK’S NIGHTMARE NIGHT

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook has had a nightmare night in the 110-88 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Westbrook shot just two from 16 for seven points on the night.

He is averaging a triple-double for the season but the blow out saw him score single figures in points rebounds and assists.

And he wasn’t happy about it.

When asked about it after the game, Westbrook simply said, “Next question” to each inquiry.

It’s the third time here in 2018-19 that he has failed to reach double figures in scoring, and this was his lowest point total so far this season.

It’s also the second time this season he’s missed double figures in points, rebounds or assists.

To make maters worse, he’ll be suspended from the Thunder’s next game after copping his 16th technical foul of the season.

Russell Westbrook won’t be in any hurry to watch this game back.

Russell Westbrook won’t be in any hurry to watch this game back.Source:AP

The Warriors were led by Steph Curry in Kevin Durant’s absence, scoring 33 points to clinch a playoff spot.

Many Oklahoma City fans hoped for the chance to boo Durant, but the league’s No. 4 scorer sat out his second straight game with a sprained right ankle.

Golden State also made up for Durant’s absence with defence.

Oklahoma City shot 32 per cent from the field — its worst percentage of the season — and made just 13 of 41 three-pointers.

“Our intensity and our focus for 48 minutes – we were trying to force them into tough shots,” Curry said.

“Over the course of the game – especially early in the first quarter – we imposed our will. We did our best to take care of the basketballso they didn’t have easy transition opportunities. And we rebounded the ball well. So all things considered, really solid effort, knowing that if you give them momentum in this building, they are tough.” Klay Thompson scored 23 points and DeMarcusCousins added 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Warriors.

with AAP

FLOATER LEADS NUGGETS TO VERGE OF PLAYOFFS

Nikola Jokic has made a habit of bailing the Denver Nuggets out of bad situations.

His teammates returned the favour.

Paul Millsap hit a left-handed layup with seven seconds remaining after Jokic was ejected late in the fourth quarter for arguing and the Nuggets moved to the verge of their first playoff spot since 2012-13 with a 102-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

The magic number for the Nuggets dropped to one as they remained in the No. 2 spot behind Golden State.

Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap came up big.

Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap came up big.Source:AP

Denver ran its home record to a Western Conference-leading 30-6.

The Nuggets were up 96-89 with 2:56 remaining when Jokic was called for a foul while jostling with Myles Turner.

Jokic was incensed at the call and kept barking at official Tony Brothers, who tossed Jokic. Indiana later tied the game at 100, before Millsap hit the winner over Turner.

Bojan Bogdanovic’s 3-pointer bounced off the rim in the final seconds.

“We won,” said Jokic, who had a team-high 26 points. “That’s the most important thing.” Jokic watched Millsap take over on the big screen in the locker room. Millsap finished with 15 points – nine in the fourth quarter – and 13 rebounds for Denver,which overcame an 18-point, first-half deficit.

“When Nikola got ejected, I went to Paul time and time again,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That’s what you want from your guy who’s been there and done that. That was a playoff-type game. Paul came through in a big way down the stretch.”

AAP