Now that the NBA is acknowledging what the Pelicans knew all too painfully well Saturday night at the end of their matchup with the Dallas Mavericks - that the officials missed Monta Ellis' foul on guard Austin Rivers that would have given him the opportunity to force overtime - New Orleans is trying to use the disappointment as motivation for the future.
"We can't put ourselves in that situation again," forward Anthony Davis said. "We've got to keep fighting. We know some games things aren't going to go our way. It's going to make us mature faster and grow up."
New Orleans went into the matchup Saturday more short-handed than ever, with sixth man Tyreke Evans joining point guard Jrue Holiday and forward Ryan Anderson on the walking wounded list. The remaining members of the team pulled together and mounted a surprisingly strong challenge to the Mavericks, who are battling for the 8th seed in the West.
The Pelicans lost 110-107, but Rivers could have been awarded three free throws and had a chance to force overtime with a fraction of a second remaining in regulation, had the officials made the correct call.
Here's the NBA's statement: "After reviewing postgame video, we have determined a foul should have been called on Dallas' Monta Ellis for illegal contact on the arms of New Orleans' Austin Rivers while Rivers was attempting a three-point field goal. Rivers should have been awarded three free throws with 0.6 left on the clock."
"I tried to get a shot off," Rivers said postgame Saturday when asked to describe the final play. "Y'all know what happened. That's all I can really say. The video speaks for itself. I can't really comment on it. I'm not trying to lose any money over this.
An unfortunate event happened. It happens in basketball. We made mistakes down the stretch and you can't put the game in the hands of one person. It's not the referee's fault."
Now, the Pelicans can only use what might have been for inspiration, as they take on the San Antonio Spurs Monday night in an effort to avoid their first six-game losing streak since December 2012. The Spurs have won the past 15-of-18 face-offs.
The coaching staff gave the Pelicans Sunday off, and now Davis describes the team as refreshed heading into battle against the #1 team in the Western Conference.
"We had a tough stretch of games for the past month and crazy travel," Davis said. "We definitely needed the rest. Some of our guys are a little banged up. (San Antonio) just played last night. We had a day off to kind of rest our bodies. So there's no reason why we shouldn't come out with a lot of energy, running the floor."