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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans try to pick up the pieces against Brooklyn Nets

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Rajon Rondo’s 25-assist game seems eons ago...

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Things couldn’t be much worse for the New Orleans Pelicans. Losers of five of six since Boogie ruptured his Achilles, our heroes find themselves slotted in the ninth position in the West, good enough to stay home for the second half of April.

If the Pelicans decide, however, to change things, their best opportunity may come against the Brooklyn Nets.

Mind you this isn’t the same Brooklyn Nets the Pelicans are used to. After having won 20 and 21 games each of the previous two seasons, the Nets have managed 19 thus far, 11 of them at home in 25 tries.

But things will not get rosier for the Pelicans than a team fresh off a four-game losing streak, and eight of their past nine. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will miss his eighth consecutive game with a groin injury, and star offseason acquisition D’Angelo Russell has struggled upon his return.

Russell averaged 21 points per game in his first twelve appearance, but in the past ten has averaged 8.6 and 2.8 assists in 18 minutes shooting 34.5% and 23.5% from three.

So, the Pelicans will not be facing any star power tonight, but they will be facing Kenny Atkinson and a changing culture. Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily.com explains.

The word culture is brought up so much because these Dinwiddie and Harris have been here almost since day one. Carroll was brought in later, but he fits right in and continues to help it evolve. Harris was one of Atkinson’s first developmental pieces and look at what he’s become. The same goes for Dinwiddie.

They exemplify what the Brooklyn Nets want to be about - not only on the court but how that present themselves off the court as well. They’re all high character individuals who understand that hard work DOES pay off. They just hope it pays off while they’re together.

The Pels will also be dealing with a revenge match, from recent starting power forward, Dante Cunningham, who requested a trade from the Pelicans just this past week. Head Coach Kenny Atkinson sang nothing but praise about his newest roster addition.

“Tough guy, great locker room guy, quiet, which is good with me,” Atkinson said with a slight chuckle. “Competitor, versatile, he shot 39% from three. He’s shown that he could shoot the three ball. 4 and 3 on the pick and roll, he’s switchable. I do think he adds to our toughness a little bit.”

”I think he gives us some depth obviously,” Atkinson said of Cunningham. “I think with guys being in and out it just gives us more depth there. Love his toughness, he’s versatile, he can play the 4 or the 3, it just gives us a little more depth.”

“I think it makes us a little bit better. I always respected how he played. Sean played with him, which is amazing, that’s the great thing about having Sean as a GM. Sean played with him, knows him, knows what type of guy he is, he’s a really good guy. I think he’ll fit into what we’re doing.”

Here’s hoping the Pelicans can find the motivation to dispose of Joe Harris (10.4ppg), Spencer Dinwiddie (13.5), Allen Crabbe (12ppg) and Demarre Carroll (13.2), because if they don’t, who knows when we may see another New Orleans win.

Geaux Pels?

What: New Orleans Pelicans at Brooklyn Nets

Where: Barclays Center

When: February 10, 2018, 5:00 p.m. Central

How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM