The New Orleans Pelicans (15-15) begin a three-game road trip through the Eastern Conference with a stop against the Washington Wizards (16-14) on Tuesday night. The contest will tip off at 6:00 p.m. Central, so be sure to tune into Joel Meyers and David Wesley on Fox Sports New Orleans or listen to Sean Kelley and John Deshazier over the airwaves on WRNO 99.5 FM.
The Pelicans haven’t won in Washington since January 1, 2011, so they’ll be looking to end a five game losing streak, but it won’t be easy as the Wizards have owned New Orleans. Over their last 11 contests, the Pelicans have walked away the winners just once.
It’s no secret that the starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal power the Wizards. Wall recently missed 10 of 12 games and Washington struggled to a 4-6 record, but since his return, they’ve won two of three. On the season, Wall is averaging 19.4 points, 8.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks, while Beal is on pace for number of personal bests in points (23.7), rebounds (4.2) and assists (3.5).
There is no denying though, Otto Porter is a solid third option for Washington after emerging last season at small forward. The third pick in the 2013 NBA Draft is averaging 14.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals, but he’s probably best known for his deft three-point shooting. A 44.8% mark on nearly four attempts has him currently slotted 12th in the association.
Having said all of that, Porter is questionable to play in tonight’s matchup after suffering a hip contusion against the Clippers which kept him out against the Cavaliers. If you may remember, Porter has a history of hip issues (torn labrum, hip flexor) so the Wizards would be wise to not rush him back to action.
Despite suffering a neck injury in the Wizards last context against the Cavaliers, Markieff Morris is expected to play after x-rays came back clean.
Three Keys to Victory
Execute without the usual amount of turnovers. Easier said than done, I know, but at some point New Orleans is going to have to learn to curb their high number of usual turnovers if they want to solidify their standing within the Western Conference. The Wizards rely on a pretty good defense, forcing a league third-best 16.8 turnovers in victories. Something has got to give!
Dominate the paint. A good barometer for the Wizards is the number of points they give up inside the paint. In wins they allow 39.5 points (9th), but that figure zooms up to 48.7 points (26th) in losses. Only the Lakers average more points in the paint than the Pelicans, yet Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and others should strive more than usual to try to score from inside the restricted area.
Keep tabs on Mike Scott. Over the last five games, this Wizards reserve has been hot, averaging 16.2 points on 69.4% from the field and 50.0% from three-point range.
What: New Orleans Pelicans at Washington Wizards
Where: Capital One Arena
When: December 19, 2017, 6:00 p.m. Central
How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM