The results from 2.5-dimensional Particle-in-Cell simulations for the interaction of a picosecond-long ignition laser pulse with a plasma pellet of 50-$\mu m$ diameter and 40 critical density are presented. The high density pellet is surrounded by an underdense corona and is isolated by a vacuum region from the simulation box boundary. The laser pulse is shown to filament and create density channels on the laser-plasma interface. The density channels increase the laser absorption efficiency and help generate an energetic electron distribution with a large angular spread. The combined distribution of the forward-going energetic electrons and the induced return electrons is marginally unstable to the current filament instability. The ions play an important role in neutralizing the space charges induced by the the temperature disparity between different electron groups. No global coalescing of the current filaments resulted from the instability is observed, consistent with the observed large angular spread of the energetic electrons.