The New Orleans Pelicans (11-12) — who are a half a game removed from sitting only above the cellar dwelling Phoenix Suns in the West — will face the Charlotte Hornets (11-11) today at 4:00 p.m. They have a stout 8-4 record at home and are led by one of the best scorers in the league at 27.1 points per game, Kemba Walker.
Seems a tall order to ask for a win, yet the Pelicans must find a way to escape a rut that has seen them lose five of their past six games and plunge them down the standings next to the Timberwolves and Jazz, two teams that have often been mentioned in discussions about being the most disappointing to start this season.
At this point, it’s only fair to say the same about New Orleans.
Outside of a couple of wins in Houston and Toronto, the Pelicans seem wholly incapable of winning on the road or maintaining the requisite focus and intensity for 48 minutes. Usually problems start right at tip-off, with the team beginning contests disinterested and unengaged. The saddest part is, they’re fully aware of the concern.
“It’s been an issue,” said Anthony Davis. “Not every game. I think we have come out too lackadaisical at times. We have to come out and play these games the same way. We just have to come out and play the way we are supposed to play at all times. It’s tough playing down every game. Playing [from 31-points down] tonight and then try to use all the energy we have to try and catch back up. You use a lot of energy and these guys are playing the same pace. They are able to come out in ways that we are never able to get over the hump because we are having to use so much energy to come back. We can’t put ourselves in a position to use so much energy to come back and then not have enough in the tank to close out games.”
Two nights ago in Miami, they allowed a floundering Heat squad jump out to a 37-17 lead. The disparity grew to a ridiculous 31 points in the first 21 minutes of the game before New Orleans finally reacted appropriately to the onslaught.
Averaging 113.6 points a contest on the road, the issues have never been related to putting points on the board. Rather the defense has been the culprit as too many times the effort has simply not been consistent — the Heat blitzed the Pelicans for four easy scores inside the paint inside the first two minutes.
So, that’s going to be today’s exclusive key to the matchup against the Hornets: give a darn from start to finish. No further analysis is required until this first condition is met.
Please, geaux Pels?
Where To Watch
What: New Orleans Pelicans at Charlotte Hornets
Where: Spectrum Center
When: Sunday, December 2, 2018, 4:00 p.m. Central
How: FSNO, 99.5 FM WRNO