Pelicans finally win consecutive games at halfway mark of season
Amen and Hallelujah!
The Christmas season just passed us by but Pelicans fans finally got a Christmas present, late as it may be, from their NBA team.
The Pelicans finally won back-to-back games for the first time since mid November with a convincing 114-95 victory over Memphis.
For a half, the Pelicans played the to the style of the Grizzlies. The result still found New Orleans on top 53-51, thanks to a great effort by Anthony Davis in the half.
The Pelicans turned up the pace in the second half to their liking and pulled away for a win over a struggling team. The Grizzlies have now lost six straight games.
As a result, we must put things in perspective.
The Pelicans finally caught a stretch of games against struggling or bad teams or both. Cleveland is the worst team in the league. Memphis is trending toward the bottom.
New Orleans passed Memphis in the Western Conference standings with the win.
While the offense turned things up in the second half, the most encouraging aspect of the win is that the Pelicans actually played defense, holding an opponent to under 100 points for a second consecutive game. Previously, the Pelicans had not accomplished that feat in their previous 27 games.
The last time New Orleans held an opponent under 100 points was against Phoenix in a 119-99 win on Nov. 10.
Again, putting things in perspective, Phoenix is on par with Cleveland for the moniker of worst team in the league.
As for Davis, he has posted games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in 11 consecutive games. He is playing like the superstar that he is, regardless of the banter about his future.
The Pelicans are at the halfway mark at 19-22.
New Orleans moved up two spots to 12th in the West, passing Dallas, who lost to the Lakers for its third straight loss. The Timberwolves are in turmoil, having fired Tom Thibodeau and they are just a half-game ahead of the Pelicans and New Orleans plays at Minnesota Saturday night. Utah has played below expectations and is just 20-21, a game ahead of New Orleans. Sacramento is improved but beatable at 20-20, just a game and a half ahead of New Orleans.
That is for the ninth spot.
Who among the top eight teams in the conference can the Pelicans catch?
The Lakers will get LeBron James back soon. Portland is pretty good. The Spurs have figured it out and have won five straight games. Houston has the MVP in James Harden. The Clippers and Thunder are better than New Orleans and Golden State and Denver are fighting it out for the top spot in the conference, along with Oklahoma City.
To get back to the playoffs, the Pelicans will likely need to get to at least 45 wins. To do so, they will need to go 26-15 the rest of the way.
New Orleans is close to getting Niko Mirotic back from his ankle sprain. Mirotic has missed 12 straight games and 14 of the last 17 games for New Orleans. E’Twaun Moore missed the game last night with a bruised quadriceps. He is day-to-day.
What will the Pelicans look like and play like when they finally get everyone on the floor together, if in fact they do?
They started the season 4-0 with the cast intact. That seems like a long, long time ago.
The Pelicans need to take care of business against the Cavaliers tomorrow night and then must win at Minnesota Saturday.
The game with the Timberwolves begins a very difficult five-game road trip, which includes visits to Los Angeles to face the Clippers, along with stops in Golden State, Portland and Memphis.
New Orleans must finally prove that it can win on the road. Unlike last season, the Pelicans have been a lousy road team, going just 5-16. To remain viable, they must win at least two games on this trip.
A winning road trip could signal that this team is starting to turn the corner.
To do so, the Pelicans must defend like they have in the last two games, rebound as they have in the last two games and get continued solid bench production from Jahlil Okafor and Frank Jackson, who had his best pro game last night with 17 points.
If these things can come together, we may be adding more Amens and Hallelujahs by April 21, when Easter rolls around. It is a stretch but there is hope.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…