Pelicans need to “figure it out” soon
Standing in the area outside of the New Orleans Pelicans’ locker room Sunday night after their loss to the Miami Heat, it was impossible to hold back the frustration of spending yet another evening watching the home team play not just down to the level of their competition, but sink even lower.
Regardless of whatever injuries they’ve suffered, the Pelicans had three of the four best players on the court, yet they couldn’t put together one complete quarter of basketball.
Every Pelicans run was followed by a seemingly longer stretch of confused and disjointed basketball.
Making it worse is that these types of efforts seem coded into the DNA of this team.
Unfortunately for the media covering the Pelicans, there are only so many ways to ask “how” and “why” after each loss.
As Alvin Gentry began his post game commentary, I looked into the eyes of my colleagues. At this point most, if not all, of us could give you Coach Gentry’s answers as well as he could.
No one can dispute that Gentry is in a tough position. He hasn’t had a healthy roster since he was named head coach four years ago.
There have been roster overhauls and the ever present specter of Anthony Davis’ impending free agency looming over the coach and his team.
Now fans are once again calling for Gentry’s head as the Pelicans continue to tread water.
I like Alvin Gentry but… he is no help, Pelicans need a new coach
— WanGuD (@wanxgud) December 11, 2018
Heading into the locker room, there was no reassurance provided by the players, though Jrue Holiday tried his unconvincing best.
“I feel like we have (started slowly) before and we come out alright,” he said. “We came out before and did the same thing and made it out alright, but we have to figure it out sooner than later. It does get frustrating, especially with our team coming in with three days off. Again, I feel like it is going to take time and we have been playing hard. Today, we played really hard and we think we’ll turn the corner very soon.”
Easy to say, and we’ve heard it before. But right now the Pelicans are having more trouble turning the corner than Clark Griswold in a roundabout.
Anthony Davis didn’t seem to share Holiday’s casual attitude. For the first time this season, AD looked dejected. He sounded it, too.
How could he not be. Beginning with the final 44 seconds of the first half, Davis would go just over 19 minutes without attempting a shot.
Davis has to feel as if there’s no way that the players he compares himself to, like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, or Giannis Antetokounmpo, would find themselves in a similar situation.
His answers were short, almost mumbled.
“We just gotta figure it out,” he said when discussing the frustrations with the inconsistency.
As I exited the locker room and made my way out of the Smoothie King Center, I felt no better about the Pelicans’ immediate prospects.
With seven games remaining in December, New Orleans has a tough road to hoe. A four game road trip that starts in Milwaukee against the Bucks (19-9), followed by the Los Angeles Lakers (18-12), Sacramento Kings (16-13) and Dallas Mavericks (15-13).
They close 2018 with three games at home against those same Mavericks, the Houston Rockets (14-14) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-16).
With Julius Randle, Niko Mirotic, and Elfrid Payton sidelined, and E’Twaun Moore still recovering from injury as well, it is conceivable that New Orleans could lose five of seven as they stumble into 2019.
It’s hard to have faith. It’s hard to believe. But there is a chance that Jrue Holiday is right. Maybe Dell Demps has another trick up his sleeve. Maybe health will allow the Pelicans to reach their potential.
On the other hand, maybe they have reached their potential. In that case the people of New Orleans will look to the heavens, waiting for the sky to fall.
And really, who could blame them?
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David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…