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Pelicans move down in power rankings after unimpressive wins over doormats

Doormats or not, winning is still better than losing.

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Chicago Bulls Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans went 2-2 last week, with two losses at home (to the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves) and two wins on the road (over the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls).

None of it would be considered pretty.

Orlando lit fire to the Pelicans defense, shooting 47% behind the arc on their way to a convincing victory. The loss to Minnesota was more painful, a tied game in the last minute that New Orleans could have absolutely won. Wins over Dallas and Chicago, two bottom dwellers in the NBA, were hideous affairs marred by horrendous shooting.

As for the story of the week, that relies in part on what comes next. If the Pelicans start winning more games, some might look back at those ugly wins against Dallas and Chicago as a time the team “learned to win” in the face of adversity when the shots weren’t falling. If instead the team falters, the inability to put away lesser opponents will be treated as a harbinger of doom to come.

Power rankers appear to fall into the second camp after the week. Writers for, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated all moved New Orleans down. As John Schuhmann notes in his power rankings, one of the keys moving forward for the Pelicans is learning to survive when Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are not on the floor together.

Last Week: 18 - This Week: 20

Two guys can not carry an offense, at least not with the Pelicans. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have averaged a combined 53.0 points over the last four games (54 percent of the team's total), but the Pels have scored less than a point per possession (and shot 26 percent from 3-point range) in each of the four. The defense has been solid as long as Davis and Cousins have been on the floor together, even though five of their 10 games have been against the league's top 12 offenses thus far. There's no relief in that regard coming just yet, as four of their next five are against the top eight.


Last Week: 17 - This Week: 21

DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis have both recorded at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in the same game four times this season. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, that is the second-most instances by a duo through the first 10 team games of a season in NBA history. Only Elgin Baylor and Jerry West had more (five in 1961-62).

Sports Illustrated

Last Week: 14 - This Week: 17

When you only squeeze by the Bulls and Mavericks, you’re certainly not going to move up in the rankings.

USA Today

Last Week: 15 - This Week: 15

The Pelicans have already won four road games this season (in six tries), something that took them 15 tries last year and 19 the year before.