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Anthony Davis hurt as Pelicans finish up eventful week with ugly loss to Bulls

A roller coaster is the only way to describe the week the New Orleans Pelicans just finished. The week began in thrilling fashion, when the Pelicans ended the Atlanta Hawks’ 19-game winning streak with a 115-100 victory. Then came the first dip, a 102-91 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of New Orleans’ main competitors for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Making matters worse was the fact that the loss came on the Pelicans’ home floor and Kevin Durant didn’t play.

New Orleans and Oklahoma City met again on Friday, only this time at Chesapeake Energy Arena, with Durant on the floor. The stage was set for the Pelicans to lose again, but Anthony Davis made sure that didn’t happen, winning the game with a ridiculous three at the buzzer-beater. Davis scored 41 points in the game, which was just good enough to offset the 48 from Russell Westbrook.

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

But the high of that victory was short-lived. The following night, the slumping Chicago Bulls came to Smoothie King Arena. New Orleans led by two points in the second quarter after Davis completed a crazy alley-oop, but the MVP candidate crashed hard to the ground on the play. The 21-year-old stayed down for a few moments, and although he stayed in the game, he left a few minutes later and didn’t return. The rest of the game was a disaster, as the Pelicans lost by 35.

Davis was diagnosed with a right shoulder contusion, and while X-rays were negative, he still has to undergo further evaluation to determine the extent of the injury. Needless to say, New Orleans is holding its collective breath hoping that the dynamic big man won’t have to miss much time, if any at all.

Davis is having one of the best seasons of all-time, with averages of 24.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. Davis is shooting 55.1 percent from the field and has a PER of 31.80, the same as Wilt Chamberlain’s record-setting PER in 1962-63.

The Pelicans are 13.8 points per 100 possessions better with Davis on the floor this season, per NBA.com, further illustrating his enormous impact. New Orleans was +2 with Davis on the court against Chicago, compared to -37 with him on the bench. That’s why he’s a top MVP candidate along with James Harden, Stephen Curry and LeBron James.

The Pelicans are now 27-24, which is 1½ games behind the Phoenix Suns for the eighth seed in the West. New Orleans has a rather favorable upcoming schedule, but it doesn’t look quite as favorable if Davis misses time. The Pelicans are already without starting point guard Jrue Holiday until after the All-Star break, and the team is limited depth-wise. Ryan Anderson can slide into the starting power forward slot, but that leaves a gaping hole on the bench.

New Orleans isn’t a title contender even with Davis (250/1 odds to win it all, per VegasInsider.com), but a playoff berth remains a strong possibility, which would be a big step forward for the franchise. It would be a shame if an injury to Davis derails that playoff push.

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