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NBA Preview: Plummeting Pelicans head to Charlotte to battle Hornets on second night of a back-to-back

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So, yeah, New Orleans is the only remaining one-win team in the league.

Indiana Pacers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Today may be the New Orleans Pelicans best chance to get back into the win column when looking at the upcoming schedule.

The Charlotte Hornets (4-4) win-loss record is a clever deception. Their victories came against the Bulls, Kings, Warriors and Pacers by a combined 19 points. According to the Simple Rating System, Basketball-Reference has them rated as the 28th-best team in the NBA.

Led by the breakout play of a potential most improved candidate in Devonte Graham (if they can win some more games), the Hornets are 25th in offensive rating and 23rd in defensive rating.

Terry Rozier will score a lot of points, but they will come at a heavy cost to his team (38 percent shooter). Cody Zeller owns the paint as a productive big but is a part of the league’s 29th-worst defense in the painted area.

On the plus side, veteran Marvin Williams and sophomore Miles Bridges are deadly-shooters capable of making lazy rotations pay and PJ Washington may finish with All-Rookie honors.

The Hornets score in two places: on the fastbreak and in the paint. They are the league’s best in taking away free points at the foul line. They finish strong in the fourth quarter on the defensive end, rating as the league’s fourth-best after being 20th or worse in the first three stanzas.

That could be enough to step over the slumbering Pelicans.

New Orleans is in all kinds of trouble. They have zero sense of identity on the defensive side of the floor, making inexplicable mistakes in a variety of areas now almost three weeks into the regular season.

Their starting unit is a negative 15.9 per 100 possessions in over 42 minutes. Jrue Holiday has been a disaster offensively, shooting 38.6 from the floor (negative 14.8 +/- per 100 possessions). Derrick Favors can’t seem to find his form, know what’s limiting him or when he’ll be 100 percent. Lonzo Ball seems to be falling short of the next step and has yet to show the supreme level of confidence that should see him dismantle defenses while hounding the perimeter alongside Holiday on the other end.

Free agent signee and playoff lock JJ Redick has posted an inexplicable negative 17.0 +/- per 100 possessions!! This man was an integral part of a Philadelphia 76ers’ team that came within a miracle shot of advancing past Kawhi Leonard and last night’s Toronto Raptors.

The only bright spot in the starting lineup for the Pelicans has been Brandon Ingram, who is on a Kevin Durant-like pace to start his career in New Orleans.

You’ll be quick to praise Ingram’s offensive versatility and his elite ability to get his own shot, but did you know the Pelicans’ offense is actually worse when he’s on the floor? On the other hand, he’s made the Pelicans 25.8 points BETTER per 100 possessions at the small forward position — only get this: he’s only played eight percent of his minutes there!

This should demonstrate the crisis in Nola. The Pelicans will continue to rack up empty calories after facing large deficits, and hey, even if they should remain competitive for 3.5 quarters, they still loom as the league’s worst performing team in the clutch (negative 67.5 rating in five games).

The Pelicans won’t lose this game because they have less talent than the Hornets. Far from it actually, but that’s what makes this display of ineptitude so frustrating!

After facing a halftime deficit of 22 points, Pelicans fans probably thought the losses of Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry to injury last night would lead to a third-quarter surge by New Orleans.

Welp.

To be perfectly honest, it feels like the Pelicans will lose to the Hornets because they don’t know who they are and have no one willing to step up and spike the spiral. They have no vocal leadership and they have a coaching staff void of any rational explanations other than the generic talking points we’ve grown tired of hearing.

Let’s dance...right out of this nightmare.

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (1-7) at Charlotte Hornets (4-4)

Where: Spectrum Center - Charlotte, North Carolina

When: Saturday, November 10, 2019. 6:00 PM CDT

How: FSNO