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#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

‘I love this s*** … I thrive on it,’ Tennessee sheriff says after deadly pursuit

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 05:08 PM PST

Watch Video

Shortly after Tennessee law enforcement shot and killed a man during a two-county vehicle chase in April, White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe seemed fired up as he recalled his conversations with dispatchers.

“They said, ‘We’re ramming (the suspect),’ ” Shoupe told a deputy in body-camera footage obtained by CNN this week. “I said, ‘Don’t ram him. Shoot him.’ “F*** that s***. You’re gonna tear my cars up.”

Shoupe later says of the chase, “I love this s***. God, I tell you what, I thrive on it.”

The comments, recorded April 13 after the sheriff arrived at the scene where officers shot and killed Michael Dial on the side of State Route 111, are at the center of a federal lawsuit filed last week by Dial’s widow against White County, Shoupe and others.

The widow, Robyn Spainhoward, alleges that a White County sheriff’s deputy and a Sparta police officer used excessive force to kill Dial, 33, of Clarksville, Tennessee.

Shoupe, in the body-camera video, says he was in another part of the county during the chase but gave orders to dispatchers that would be relayed to the pursuing officers.

In the video, he says he “gave the order to take him out because he (Dial) was going to kill somebody if we hadn’t.”

Two deputies and a police officer were injured during the pursuit, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. The prosecutor ruled the shooting was justified, CNN affiliate WTVF reported.

District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway did not return CNN’s calls for comment about the case.

The lawsuit, which seeks up to $10 million, alleges that the sheriff ordered the shooting “solely to prevent damage to patrol cars.” The suit, filed in US District Court in Nashville, cites Shoupe’s comments lamenting damage to his vehicles for part of its argument.

“I feel with every part of me, that’s exactly what they wanted to do, was kill him,” Spainhoward told WTVF. CNN tried to contact Spainhoward through her attorney but he said she wasn’t granting any more interviews.

Citing the lawsuit, Melissa Worthington, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said Shoupe and his department would not comment.

White County Executive Denny Robinson and Sparta Police Chief Jeff Guth also declined to comment.

‘Use deadly force if necessary’

The chase began on a late April afternoon when police in Smithville, in DeKalb County some 55 miles southeast of Nashville, tried to pull Dial over on suspicion of driving with a suspended license, according to the lawsuit.

Dial, in a pickup towing a loaded, open-air trailer, kept driving. He’d been in Smithville for a flea market, Spainhoward told CNN affiliate WKRN in April.

When Dial went east into adjacent White County, Sparta police and White County sheriff’s deputies picked up the chase. Dashboard and body-camera videos obtained by CNN show squad cars trying to force the truck off the road or get it to stop, by running into it or cutting it off.

The truck and patrol cars came into contact several times as Dial headed north on Route 111, the truck at times weaving, and items spilling out of the trailer. Despite being forced into the median at one point, Dial kept going.

The lawsuit says Dial was driving around 50 mph, and “at no point after turning onto Highway 111 did Dial pose a threat to any members of the public.”

But deputies are heard telling dispatchers that at least one officer’s vehicle had been disabled.

A dispatcher eventually relays new instructions from the sheriff, who was not involved in the chase. Here’s a conversation in one of the dashboard camera recordings:

Deputy: “Get a hold of 59 (the sheriff), see if we can do something to get this maniac off the road.”

Dispatcher: “(Unintelligible), deadly force.”

(A different video — from a reserve deputy’s body camera — shows the dispatcher saying: “Per 59, take him out by any means necessary, including deadly force.”)

Deputy: “10-9 (repeat)?”

Dispatcher: “Per 59 (the sheriff), use deadly force if necessary. Take the subject out by any means necessary.”

Deputy: “10-4. Central, be advised, I’m fixing to ram him.”

Dispatcher (40 seconds later): “All units, per 59, do not ram this subject. If you need to, get up and use your shotgun and end this pursuit.”

At about this moment, a pursuing squad car hits the truck in the rear passenger side, turning it sideways.

A body camera shows a reserve deputy exiting his vehicle and firing a gun.

While the reserve deputy is running, other shots — fired by a Sparta police officer, according to the lawsuit — are heard.

The truck goes off the right of the road and down an embankment. It then goes briefly back up, toward the general area of a police car, before going back down and coming to a rest.

Both the reserve deputy and the Sparta police officer shot Dial, with one of them shooting him in the head, the lawsuit says. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Dial died of the gunshot wound to the head, a report by the White County medical examiner’s office says.

‘He meant to kill some people’

After the shooting, Shoupe arrives on the scene. Eventually he gets back into a vehicle with a deputy.

Body camera footage reveals conversations that the sheriff was having in that vehicle after the shooting:

Shoupe: “I told them, I said, ‘Take him out.’ ”

Deputy: “I heard.”

Shoupe: “Damn, I don’t give a s***.”

Deputy: “It wasn’t long after that I heard, ‘Shots fired. Shots fired.’ ”

Shoupe: “They said, ‘We’re ramming.’ I said, ‘Don’t ram him. Shoot him.’ “F*** that s***. You’re gonna tear my cars up. I got two cars tore up again.”

Shoupe then appears to engage in several phone calls. Several times, Shoupe either says Dial tried to kill an officer or posed a deadly threat.

“He’s (Dial) tore our cars all to hell. He tried to kill him. I’m telling you. You (ought) to see that city car,” Shoupe says in one call.

“He (Dial) rammed the city officer, tried to kill him, and he has tore their car all to hell. I mean he ran over the back at it, right up on top of it,” Shoupe says in a subsequent call.

Shoupe also mentions that one officer is bleeding from the mouth, and was taken to a hospital.

The TBI said three officers — a Sparta police officer and two White County sheriff’s deputies — suffered “injuries consistent with being in a vehicle crash.”

“I gave the order to take him (Dial) out because he was going to kill somebody if we hadn’t,” Shoupe says during a phone call in the body-camera footage. “I’m telling you … this is a hell of a pursuit. I mean, he meant to kill some people.”

“Anyway, sir, I just wanted to let you know that I hate it, but that’s what we do,” he says before ending the call.

He later tells an officer in the car: “If they don’t think I’ll give the damn order to kill that mother*****, they full of s***.”

After lamenting that he was on the “wrong end of the county” during the chase, Shoupe delivers one of the quotes that the lawsuit highlights:

“I love this s***. God, I tell you what, I thrive on it.”

Then Shoupe, once again, refers to Dial as a threat.

“He was going to kill somebody,” the sheriff says.

‘I don’t know how you can thrive on taking a human life’

Attorney David Weissman, who represents Spainhoward in the lawsuit, told WTVF that Dial did not have a weapon and that the shooting was unjustified. In an interview with TV station, he referred to Shoupe’s “thrive” comment.

“I don’t know how you can thrive on taking a human life,” Weissman said. “That’s not law enforcement.”

He also pointed to Shoupe’s comments about the patrol cars, asserting they show he was more concerned about the vehicles than Dial’s life.

“If that’s the mentality of the highest policymaker in the county, that’s scary,” the lawyer told WTVF.

The lawsuit alleges Shoupe shouldn’t have given the deadly-force order, in part because the sheriff wasn’t at the scene.

“The decision to order the use of deadly force when not physically present to evaluate the situation speaks volumes as to the malicious and sadistic mindset of Sheriff Shoupe,” the lawsuit reads.

Dunaway, the district attorney for an area that includes White County, ruled the shooting justified, saying in part that Dial posed a danger to law enforcement and other citizens, and that his truck was going back up the embankment toward the Sparta police officer’s vehicle, WTVF reported.

But Spainhoward has said she doesn’t believe her husband needed to die.

“They could have let him go 10 more miles down the road. He probably would have run out of gas,” she told WTVF.

Endymion rolls despite drizzly route

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 05:05 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Whether rain or shine, the "super krewe" of Endymion is just too fun to pass up!

"Rain or shine I'm going to be out here because I heard Mardi Gras is such a fun time, it's my first time here in Louisiana.
said first time parade-goer, Chiante McDuffie.

"It's the best parade of the year they throw a lot, they are always beautiful," says another parade-goer, Pam Cangelosi as she references the majestic floats rolling by.

So what is Endymion's motto?

With an estimated 15 million throws along the parade route... their motto is "Throw til it hurts!"

On one of the floats are Saint's rookies of the year, Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore.

So with their floats, beads, bands, and football stars, Endymion once again becomes the most sought-after carnival krewes.

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The secret is out – all hail Rex 2018!

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 03:03 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS – Talk about a mash-up between old and new:  the man who will reign over the oldest krewe in Carnival, the grand-daddy of them all, founded in 1872?

A modern technology genius who enjoys writing computer code.

Meet Rex 2018:  Lynes "Poco" Sloss, president and CEO of Bellwether Technology, a computer management system for clients across the country.  But nothing compares to being the King of Carnival.

"It's spectacular to be king," says Sloss, "I can't wait to be at the parade and the ball, and the closer we get, the drums are beating louder every day, and I'm really, really excited about it."

As always, the selection was secret – a pow-pow of Rex higher-ups who manage to fool each year's monarch until they reveal the surprise.  This year, Sloss had been told that someone else would wear the crown, and he was part of a small group that would share the good news.

"We were all set up for this person to come, sitting in a boardroom," says Sloss, "The champagne was on ice and the (Rex) Captain said there's someone sitting in this room who hasn't been Rex and he really should be—and they all turned to me and went:  Poco!  And I was like, 'Man, you guys really got me.' It was hilarious."

Riding on the King's float in the Rex parade, throwing beads and toasting the Mayor at Gallier Hall, will be a new experience for Sloss, but he's been in charge of the Rex Ball for years.  Still, if he wants some last minute advice on how to navigate the carefully choreographed affair, he could turn to his daughter, Nina, who was the Rex Queen of 2013.  She's living in New York these days.

"She came in to town and I had a brief hello before she went off to see her friends," laughs Sloss. "She just asked me for $20 so she could get lunch—that's the only tip I could get from her!"

Away from his royal duties, Sloss enjoys duck hunting and traveling.  He says that when he turned 55 (he's a young 64 today) he told his wife Liz that if he was ever going to learn to fly a plane, he'd better do it.

He did, and then he bought his own plane.

It's been one adventure after another for Sloss, who says he liked his life before the honor of being named Rex, and he'll like his life when his brief rule is over.

"Everybody tells me it goes by before you know it," says Sloss, laughing as he tells the story of a former Rex who woke up on Ash Wednesday and got a command from his wife.

"Yesterday you were the king," the wife said, "today, you can take out the trash."


Rex Queen has been hiding in plain sight!

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 03:02 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- Have you seen the Queen of Carnival?

In the past week or so, you might have seen her blonde ponytail swinging as she jogged in City Park.  Or maybe you saw her kayaking in Bayou St. John.

On Fat Tuesday all the world will see her– wearing a crown.

Sarah Jane Freeman, a junior at the University of Virginia, is this year's Rex Queen.

If her last name sounds familiar, maybe it's because her grandfather, Louis Freeman, was Rex in 1999; her great-grandfather, Richard Freeman, was Rex in 1959, and her great-great-grandfather, Alfred Freeman, was Rex in 1932.

Her great-aunt, Tina Louise Freeman, was the Rex Queen in 1971; her aunt, Laura Freeman, was the Rex Queen in 1984,  and her second cousin, Adair Freeman, was the Rex Queen in 1987.

There's a lot of royal blood in the Freeman family.  And a scrapbook of those royal relatives is what her parents presented to her when they gave her the news that she was next in line.

"I thought they were just showing me the book," laughs Freeman, "so it was a good cover."

That private announcement was almost a year ago, and Freeman says it wasn't easy to keep the upcoming coronation from her friends.

"There have just been some guesses, and you've got to be, like 'I don't know what you're talking about,'" she says, "so it's been fun."

Freeman says she loves parties and dancing ("Dancing in the Moonlight," the 1973 hit, is her favorite song) and she had always admired the bling on the ballgowns of past Rex Queens.

This year, she helped design her own glittering gown.

It's going to be a brief reign, a public toast during the Rex parade on Tuesday.  Freeman, joined by her maids, will rise from their seats on the reviewing stand near Gallier Hall, as this year's Rex, Lynes "Poco" Sloss, rolls up on his float to pay homage to his Queen and share a glass of champagne.

In the evening comes the grand finale: the semi-private Rex Ball (it's by invitation only, but WYES is allowed broadcast it). That's where Freeman will wear the gown and wave her scepter as she strolls around the room with her King.

After the carefully choreographed display of majesty, Queen Freeman and King Sloss will watch from their thrones as Rex members, in their tuxes and  tails and white gloves, will present themselves and their dates and bow to the faux royalty.   Then they will all dance until the clock strikes midnight.

Perhaps the band will play "Dancing in the Moonlight."

Endymion moves start time up 30 minutes

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 01:31 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS — The Krewe of Endymion parade that starts in Mid-City and rolls to downtown will start 30 minutes early due to expected rain.

The parade will roll at 3:45 p.m. instead of 4:15 p.m. from the corner of City Park Avenue and Orleans Avenue.

It rolls down Orleans, then turns right on Carrollton before turning left on Canal Street.

Here’s the rest of the route, courtesy the Mardi Gras New Orleans website:

  • Canal Street through Mid City until they reach St. Charles Avenue.
  • At St. Charles Avenue, they take a right and follow it until the intersection with Howard Avenue at Lee Circle.
  • They take Howard Avenue until taking a right Loyola Avenue.
  • There is a left turn on to Dave Dixon Drive.
  • Their next turn is a left on to Liberty Street
  • That is followed by a right onto Julia Street.
  • They take a right on to Le Rouge Lane.
  • There is another right on to Dave Dixon Drive.
  • Their last turn is on LaSalle Street and into Champions Sqaure at the Superdome.

2018 Krewe of Iris rolls!

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 12:28 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- The Krewe of Iris had a good start before the rain settled in. This year's Iris signature throws were decorated sunglasses and a streetcar pillow.

Take a look at the photo gallery below of The Krewe of Iris.

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Operation Lost Kids activated now through Mardi Gras

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 12:02 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS — The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office has launched its all-volunteer Operation Lost Kids program from now through Mardi Gras.

Anyone who has lost a child or found a lost child can bring them to the Operation Lost Kids headquarters at the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Toledano Street.

Operation Lost Kids volunteers will also be available to assist with information about the history of Mardi Gras and the location of the parades.

2018 Krewe of Tucks rolls!

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 11:28 AM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- Thousands were ready to see the Krewe of Tucks roll through the Garden District Saturday morning. The bathroom themed parade threw out their traditional decorated toilet brushes and toilet paper.

This years theme was "50 Shades of Gold."

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Man’s dying wish comes true, marries love of his life

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 09:47 AM PST

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Doctors say Donald Jett is in end-stage renal failure. His one wish was to marry the love of his life before he dies. On Friday, in front of his family, Donald's nurses made that happen, according to WNEP.

It's a love story 24 years in the making. Donald Jett and Julie Brown met at a bar in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Both said there was a connection, but back then she was married to someone else.

About three years ago, the two reconnected. This time they were both single.

"I was like, 'How did you recognize me?' He said, 'Your eyes, I'll never forget them,'" Julie recalled.

Even though the two moved in together right away, their relationship hasn't been a walk in the park. Donald is sick. He has terminal renal failure and last week he came home from hospice to be comfortable.

"Julie took care of him and he's done pretty amazing, for the most part. But the last year has been really hard," said nurse Jami Cordell.

But Donald doesn't like to think about that. He Doesn't like talking about sad things.

"I feel great, absolutely great," he said.

What makes him happiest, he said, is being able to marry Julie after so many years.

"I've been waiting 20-some odd years for Donald to ask me to marry him," Julie said.

When the couple told Donald's nurses at Geisinger Medical Center about their plans, they jumped into action.

"We were all very excited and we're all women so we're all like, 'Ah, wedding," said Cordell.

The nurses did everything – from getting Julie's dress to finding a chaplain.

"We got a free cake, we got free flowers. It's been amazing," Cordell said.

They even brought Donald's mother from a nearby nursing home. When it came time for the couple's vows, all eyes were on Don. He didn't talk all day to make sure his voice was strong enough to say the all-important two words: "I do."

"Like a fairytale," Julie said. "So many emotions."

"She looked amazing. That was my baby. I know this was her day but it was mine, too," Donald said.

The wedding was everything this couple thought it would be.

Julie told WNEP she realizes they don't have much time left together. But she believes in the afterlife and knows Donald will be waiting for her there.

$10M worth of fentanyl found stuffed in fish fillets

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 09:37 AM PST

NEW YORK — Several slabs of fish weren't enough to keep New York City detectives from finding several kilos of the deadly drug fentanyl.

Officers tailed Johnny De Los Santos-Martinez, 35, to Leland Avenue and Archer Street in the Parkchester section of the Bronx Feb. 1. That's where they noticed two boxes in the back seat of the 2017 white Acura MDX he was sitting in, police say.

Inside the boxes, investigators found two coolers containing fish that was sliced up — and wrapped around kilos of the dangerous opioid. Police said the brick-shaped packages containing fentanyl were sealed tight with green plastic.

There were four kilos in the containers; three of them were covered with the fish.

Another kilo was hidden in a vacuum-sealed package of what appeared to be chili.

Detectives from the NYPD's Queens Narcotics Major Case Squad spearheaded the investigation.

Fentanyl — an opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin that is lab-produced in China and Mexico — is often mixed with heroin doses and is driving the skyrocketing U.S. death rates tied to drugs.

The drug is cheap, so many dealers are even pressing it into fake Oxycodone pills on the black market.

Among the celebrity deaths attributed to fentanyl in the last two years are rockers Prince and Tom Petty.

The Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said the four kilos seized in the Bronx could have yielded more than a million lethal doses of fentanyl/heroin and is worth up to $10 million on the street.

Santos-Martinez, the suspected distributor in this case, was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on last Friday. His bail was set at $150,000 cash or $250,000 bond.


JPSO: Man found shot dead on Marrero sidewalk

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 07:15 AM PST

MARRERO, La. — Detectives with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office are working a shooting death in Marrero. 

According to JPSO, deputies responded about 12:20 a.m. Saturday to reports of gunfire in the 2000 block of Watling Drive.

Officers discovered a unidentified black male lying unconscious on the sidewalk, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead on the scene. Detectives have not identified a motive or suspect yet. The victim’s identity has not been released.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Investigations Bureau at 364-5300 or  Crimestoppers.

The original Krewe Of Orpheus returns and honors Cajun Navy

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 07:06 AM PST

MANDEVILLE, La. — The original Krewe Of Orpheus returned to Mandeville Friday night.

Three decades ago, eleven businessmen set out to form a new carnival krewe that would bring a first-class parade to Mandeville.

The krewe is famous for its handmade Pineloon throws (a pinecone on a gold double base, sprayed purple, green and gold and sprinkled with gold glitter). Legend has it that those who catch an Orpheus Pineloon and display it in their home will experience good fortune all year long.

This year's theme is "Orpheus goes to the movies."

Here are some photos from Friday night’s fun:

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With help from friends, 20-year-old man with cancer lives out bucket list

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:58 AM PST

CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. – If you spend some time with Chris Betancourt, the first thing you'll notice is that he acts like a completely normal 20-year-old man.

"I put two legs in one pant leg this morning, I don't think I'm an inspiration," he told KTXL. "But it's amazing to see people think I'm an inspiration."

But Chris and his friends, who all call themselves ordinary, are doing some extraordinary things. For instance, a week before Christmas, they found themselves on a rooftop in San Francisco for a giant, public pillow fight.

Their story begins nearly a decade ago when Chris met his friend Dillon Hill in the fifth grade. That same year, Chris was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia -- a form of cancer that attacks the blood cells in his bone marrow.

"He was there every single day in the hospital for two months which really strengthened the friendship," Chris said.

Chris' cancer went into remission after those two intense months. He and Dillon stayed close into high school, where they met Hrach Avetisyan.

But after years without symptoms, Chris collapsed this past Memorial Day.

Doctors said not only was his cancer back but without a bone marrow donor, he had less than a year to live.

"I was just crying for the first few days honestly. it was a lot to process," he said. "(Dillon) came back in a few days to me and was like give me a list of 50 things that we're doing. And we're going to go out and do them. And we're gonna document them."

  And so Chris' bucket list was born.

The big pillow fight was item 31.

"He's saying, 'I'm not a hospital patient who's going to die, let me live out my bucket list. I am someone who might die, let me inspire everyone else around me. Let's live out our bucket lists together,'" Dillon said.

And that's exactly what they have been doing, crossing off goals one by one.

Feed the homeless – done.

Get matching tattoos – done.

Spend a day at Reddit – done.

Chris' mom, Alexandra, was a reluctant supporter at first.

"While they're having fun and all this stuff, I'm more concerned about trying to find a way to prolong his life and have him stay longer," she told KTXL.

If Chris doesn't survive this year, he'll be the second child she's lost. In 2014, Chris' sister committed suicide.

But Alexandra now says fulfilling the list with her son has brought them closer.

"I already lost a daughter and I do try to keep all the pictures and everything I can find of her with me. I wish I had more," she said. "So, I think this is a good idea because I can always go back to him and think of him and remember him in a nice way."

Chris says having his mom around sometimes changes the dynamic of completing the list.

"Just in the sense of she doesn't like me thinking about an ending of the list, a perishing," he SAID. "She definitely clings to me a lot closer because I'm all she's got."

If this really the last year Chris has left, he hopes his legacy inspires people to live their lives.

Actually live them.

"Life is never done being lived. You can never cross off all of your life's items because there is always gonna be something new," he said.

He says the idea behind any good bucket list is to never finish.

Learn more about joining the bone marrow registry by clicking here.

Parade weather looking a bit better

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:20 AM PST

The latest indications as of Saturday morning are looking better for the parades today. Especially the ones starting earlier in the day.

The first image is the HRRR model. This is a short range model that is showing potential radar by 5 PM Saturday evening. While this is only one model, others are indicating a similar situation. You can see the edge of the rainfall just beginning to make it in to the New Orleans area.

Now keep in mind this is the main batch of rain. It does look like we will continue to see showers through the day ahead of that. But those should move through with minimal amounts.

As far as Endymion goes it looks like a portion of that will be good as well. However the later hours could see heavier rain along the route.

There is a Marginal risk of severe weather today from the Storm Prediction Center. The most likely threat in our area looks to be in southern Mississippi. However any storms that pop up out ahead of the main rain area through the day could be strong to severe. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on things and have a way to receive warnings if they are issues for your area.

Overall though a bit more positive outlook for the day. We’ll see mainly light rain through early afternoon with heavier activity after that.

Bell rung: Pelicans routed at Philadelphia

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 04:53 AM PST

The Pelicans’ east coast road trip is off to an inauspicious start.

New Orleans fell behind 32-14 after one quarter, on the way to a 100-82 loss at Philadelphia Friday night. The Pelicans trailed 84-52 after three quarters.

The Pelicans have now lost 5 of 6 games since DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the season with a torn achilles.

Ian Clark led the Pelicans off the bench with 15 points. Anthony Davis scored only 14 points, with 8 rebounds.

New Orleans scored only 11 points in the third quarter. The 82 points were a season low for the Pelicans, who dropped to the 9th spot in the Western Conference standings.

Joel Embiid scored 24 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for the Sixers. Ben Simmons scored 10 points, had 8 assists, and 9 rebounds.

The Pelicans play at Brooklyn Saturday. Game time 5 pm New Orleans time.