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Pelicans drop in NBA Power Rankings but still hold out hope

Could this team just show up to three games in a row? Please?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans have only themselves to blame at this point. Injuries were a fine excuse in November when Ish Smith and Toney Douglas were logging heavy minutes. Last Monday the problem wasn't injuries, it wasn't the schedule, and it wasn't the system. These are all things we at The Bird Writes are willing to accept.

Lack of effort? No. Sports fans everywhere deserve effort. Even the Philadelphia 76ers provide effort in spite of the enormous talent gap they face each and every night. Sixer fans who haven't bought into the process might be disappointed in their team's record. They can't accuse the players of not trying hard.

Effort. Buy-in. These are issues that came up after an embarrassing performance against the Boston Celtics. Tyreke Evans and Alvin Gentry might get along but their preferred styles appear to be a poorly arranged marriage. Anthony Davis talked about caring after the loss.

Thankfully the Pelicans won on Friday and were very competitive on the second night of a back-to-back in Chicago Saturday. The victory over Washington was nice, but I found far more hope in the loss. Defensive effort was excellent and the offense looked better to my eye.

Shockingly the Pellies find themselves just 4.5 games out of 8th despite the disastrous start. This week they could make significant progress or continue to struggle on the road. Cutting that deficit to 2.5 games or less by Friday is not out of the question. First up, the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at 9 pm.

NBA.com

Last Week: 23 - This Week: 27

It feels like a make-or-break week for the Pelicans. After Saturday's loss in Chicago (in which they blew a double-digit, second-half lead), they're 1-11 on the road. And now they play four road games against teams between them and a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The defense still stinks and they're not getting consistent offensive production from anybody, even Anthony Davis, who shot 16-for-45 in two losses last week.

ESPN

Last Week: 22 - This Week: 24

When the Pels won three in a row, we thought they were on the way back. When they got Tyreke Evans back and beat Cleveland, we thought they had turned the proverbial corner. Math has never been a Committee strength, but we suspect they're running out of time to rebound, even in this more-forgiving-than-expected West.

Sports Illustrated

Last Week: 24 - This Week: 25

New Orleans has shown some signs of life and a productive Tyreke Evans (15.5 points, 7.2 assists, five rebounds) has given the Pelicans a jolt, yet they’ve still couldn't pick up much winning traction. They’ll get four winnable road games this week (Portland, Utah, Phoenix, Denver), but are running out of time to produce results.

CBS Sports

Last Week: 21 - This Week: 27

They're popping up in a lot of trade rumors, a sure sign that they recognize how deep the hole is. Their win over the Cavaliers was their best of the season ... they followed that up with a 1-2 week where they lost to Chicago and Boston, and beat the Wizards by two, at home. I did not expect the defense (30th per 100 possessions) to be this bad under Alvin Gentry.