Pelicans pass scrimmage tests in Orlando with flying colors

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You measure the treasure by the fact that it was simply a practice game but you can take pleasure from the performance of the New Orleans Pelicans in their three practice games in Orlando.

That is particularly true of the third of those scrimmage games.

While it does not count, the fact that New Orleans was cold early and was being controlled by an elite Milwaukee team but still overcame the Bucks in convincing fashion to dominate the final three quarters in a 124-103 victory is extremely encouraging.

The Bucks have the best record in the NBA at 53-12, in case you have forgotten over the past few dormant months of the league.

The Pelicans started slowly, trailing 30-21 after one quarter. New Orleans closed to within 53-50 by halftime.

Then came the JJ Redick show.

After going 0-for-5 with no points in the first half, Redick exploded in the third quarter.

The sharpshooter went 4-for-4 from 3-point range 1-for-1 from two-point range and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line, scoring 20 points to give the Pelicans a 90-81 lead on the strength of a 14-0 run by New Orleans.

The fourth quarter was more of the same as the Pelicans controlled play once again, outscoring the Bucks 34-22 to coast to victory.

Once again, the Pelicans showed their vast depth.

As I have stated for months, New Orleans is as deep as any team in the league.

The Pelicans got 76 points from their reserves, led by Redick’s 20 points. Jaxson Hayes continued to play with energy, scoring 17 points while Frank Jackson had 16 points.

Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday each scored 14 points while Lonzo Ball added 12 points.

After a slow start from 3-point range, New Orleans finished 17-of-47 for 36 percent from distance.

New Orleans limited its turnovers, committing just 11 while the Bucks gave it away 21 times.

The starters got more minutes to prepare for the restart.

The Pelicans were without Zion Williamson, who should be ready to play when the seeding games begin Thursday against Utah. Milwaukee was without guard Eric Bledsoe.

While tempering the obvious enthusiasm of how this talented young team looked in the three practice games, it cannot be ignored that New Orleans outscored Brooklyn, Denver and Milwaukee by a 342-275 margin, winning the games by an average of 22.3 points per game.

The only negative was the Bucks controlling the boards by a 51-39 margin but that is to be expected facing perhaps the longest team in the league.

Now comes the real test.

Trailing eighth-place Memphis by 3.5 games with eight games to play, the Pelicans must at least reach the ninth spot to reach the postseason.

New Orleans is in a virtual tie for ninth with Portland and San Antonio and just a half game ahead of Sacramento.

The Pelicans open with long-time nemesis Utah Thursday night in a real test before facing another elite team in the Clippers.

Utah will be without second leading scorer Brian Bogdnavoic and his 20.2 points per game. Bogdanovic underwent season ending surgery on his right wrist.

The Clippers will be without a big piece in Lou Williams, who will not play against the Pelicans.

New Orleans must take advantage.

Winning one of those two games is nearly imperative before facing Memphis in game three in a must-win game against a team the Pelicans are chasing.

There are two games with Sacramento, another team New Orleans must beat, a game against Phoenix and games with Washington and Orlando.

Going 5-3 is essential to make the playoffs while 6-2 or better could give the Pelicans a chance to catch the Grizzlies for the eight-spot.

If it happens, it will be because the Pelicans are all in on the restart and are all in as a team, hungry, improving with a huge will to win with a very deep roster.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

CEO/Owner

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE 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 Sports Media Association, National Football…

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