The New Orleans Pelicans led by as many as 16 points in the first half over the visiting Atlanta Hawks, before falling 102-99 in the Smoothie King Center.
Brandon Ingram had a chance to make the game winner on the Pelicans’ final possession, but his fadeaway jumper failed to hit iron, and New Orleans dropped to 1-4 on the season, 0-2 at home.
It was the Pelicans’ sixth straight loss to Atlanta. New Orleans gets its next chance to snap the streak on Mar. 20.
Devonte Graham had another strong performance for the Pelicans, scoring a team-high 21 points, while dishing out six assists, and collecting five rebounds.
Graham is averaging 18.4 points and 5.2 assists per game this season, while shooting nearly 40 percent from long-distance.
Jonas Valanciunas recorded his third double-double, with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Ingram, who had an up and down night shooting the basketball, finished with 20 points (8-21 FG), eight boards, and two blocks.
Hawks guard Trae Young led all scorers with 31 points, utilizing an array of floaters and layups, while knocking down only two three-pointers. John Collins added 16 points and 12 boards in 25 minutes, with Bogdan Bogdanovic (12) and DeAndre Hunter (13) also scoring in double figures for the 3-1 Hawks.
New Orleans stormed out of the gate to start the game, opening the game with a 16-7 run to take a 33-19 lead after the first 12 minutes.
The Pelicans set the tone on the defensive end, limiting the Hawks to just eight makes in their first 29 shot attempts, including all 10 of their shots from beyond the arc.
On the other end of the floor, New Orleans was on fire, shooting 56 percent during the quarter, with four three-pointers in nine attempts.
Atlanta bounced back in the second quarter, starting with a 10-2 run of its own that cut the New Orleans lead to six in just over two minutes.
With the Pelicans’ second unit once again struggling, the Hawks were able to stay within reach, still trailing by six at the break.
As it has been so many times in seasons past, the third quarter was a nightmare for the Pelicans.
After taking very good care of the basketball in the first half, New Orleans turned it over five times in the third quarter, leading to some easy buckets. Young got going as well, scoring 10 of his 31 in the quarter.
When the Hawks missed, they were able to get second and even third chance opportunities. Atlanta collected five offensive boards in the quarter, and 21 in the game, leading to a seven point advantage in second chance points.
A 13-point swing sent the game into the fourth quarter with the Pelicans trailing by seven, 77-84.
The final frame was a slog for both offenses, due to a combination of intense effort on the defensive end and stagnant movement with the basketball.
New Orleans opened the quarter with a 15-3 run that allowed them to retake the lead. The Pelicans held a five-point advantage with 6:34 to go, and it looked like New Orleans would give Willie Green his first winning streak.
However, Atlanta was able to steady itself and close the game on a 15-7 run.
New Orleans had multiple chances late to put the game away, but failed to do so. They got no help from the officials, who missed a blatant foul on a drive by Graham that would have given him a pair of free throws that could have tied the game or given the Pelicans the lead.
Instead, it was another close loss that felt far too familiar.
The Pelicans have two games remaining in their three-game home stand. They face the Sacramento Kings (2-2) on Friday, before taking on the New York Knicks (3-1) on Saturday.