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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans need to bounce back from recent stretch of disturbing play against Orlando Magic

Clinging to the eighth spot in the Western Conference, the Pelicans have lost 8 of their last 12 games. Playoff aspirations beget that stops. Now.

NBA: Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (15-16) should be eager to recover from consecutive bitter losses on the schedule when they face the Orlando Magic (11-21) on Friday evening. The game is going to be another early start at 6 p.m. Central, so be sure to tune in an hour earlier than usual to either Fox Sports New Orleans or WRNO 99.5 FM.

Back in October, the Pelicans fell to the Magic 115-99, but at the time Orlando was one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference. Twelve games into the season, the Magic sported an 8-4 record and they were one of the better early stories in the NBA.

Oh how the mighty have fallen in Disney’s backyard because it’s been all down hill ever since. Immediately following that surprisingly good start, the Magic suffered a nine-game losing streak, and currently they’re riding a six-game winless stretch. I don’t have to tell anyone that posting just three victories during the 20 games is ridiculously bad.

One reason for the major drop in performance has been injuries. In Orlando’s last contest, Mario Hezonja and Wesley Iwundu were forced into the starting lineup in place of Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon versus the Chicago Bulls. Both Terrence Ross and rookie Jonathan Issac have also missed a lot of time, 28 games to date.

Here’s the latest news on the Magic’s walking wounded.

Three Keys to Victory — Stick to Fundamentals

Everyone get back on defense in a timely manner. Let’s wipe the slate clean. Forget the inconsistent effort seen at times over the first 31 games. If the Pelicans truly desire to get their season back on track, they’ve got to hold one another accountable and play up to their abilities for every minute spent on the floor moving forward. Beginning with the simplest of tasks — all five players hustling to get back on defense — would make for a fantastic start.

Own the glass. Rebounding is another facet that is mostly effort oriented. When the ball goes up, put a body on somebody. Anybody. And that goes for Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, too. When New Orleans has been out-rebounded this season, they’ve won only two out of a possible twelve games. For an Orlando team that’s likely to be without some of their best perimeter shooters, limiting the Magic to one shot is a no-brainer.

Keep it simple, stupid. Forget threading the needle, notching a highlight worthy assist. Trying to dive through a double-team, dribbling through traffic. There’s a reason the K.I.S.S. acronym is preached so often — simplicity works, especially for those trying to do more than they’re accustomed to!

Geaux Pels!

What: New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic

Where: Amway Center

When: December 22, 2017, 6:00 p.m. Central

How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM