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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans must show promise against Zach Randolph and Sacramento Kings

Down Boogie Cousins. Doesn’t matter. New Orleans needs to handle business if playoff dream remains viable.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a loss to Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers, the New Orleans Pelicans will have to rebound with one day’s rest and face the low-flying Sacramento Kings.

This is a team whose record does not tell the entire story, and if you can remember back to the last time these two teams face, it wasn’t a pretty ending for the Pelicans. However, on paper, New Orleans should fare well considering Sacramento has the lowest net rating in the league and the Kings have won but just three times this month.

Last time out, the Kings took an overtime victory over New Orleans in a late comeback effort at the Smoothie King Center. DeMarcus Cousins went for 38 points and 11 rebounds, but with Anthony Davis seemingly dormant in the fourth quarter and overtime period, the Pelicans let a lesser conference opponent steal the day. Cousins and New Orleans had no answer for Zach Randolph that night, allowing him to post a 35-point, 13-rebound game that was almost reminiscent of his prime. Now the question lies – without Cousins, how will the Pelicans stop Randolph from recreating that performance all over again?

Let us not forget that guards Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason proved extremely valuable for Sacramento last time around as well, scoring 18, 14 and 12 respectively. Jrue Holiday should force Hield to adjust, in addition to Ian Clark’s effort in increased minutes and the newly acquired DeAndre Liggins’ defensive abilities, and New Orleans should be able to hold off that front from such and outing again.

Even so, down low still remains a red flag — not only defensively, but offensively as well. In Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Clippers, New Orleans struggled to close a double-digit halftime lead due to a complete disregard of attacking the pain in the third quarter. If three-point shooting regresses again, New Orleans is vulnerable to more of the same on Tuesday against the Kings. Nevertheless, the Pelicans have showed that they can compete even without Anthony Davis always serving as the primary scorer – but the attack, mindsets and motivation have to intensify.

Tip-off on Tuesday against the Sacramento Kings is set for 7 p.m. CT. Catch all the action on Fox Sports New Orleans or listen into WRNO 99.5 FM!

Geaux Pels!