You can put this Pelicans team down in history — as one of the franchise’s worst.
New Orleans (6-21) dropped its 12th-straight game Sunday afternoon, falling 130-119 to the Orlando Magic and taking sole possession of the team’s longest losing streak since its formation. This one had just about everything, too. We witnessed an engaging start, a post-halftime collapse and an ejection all before an ever predictable finish.
The Pelicans trailed by only one point at halftime after a competitive start where Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick offensively led a squad which was competing inside, sharing the ball well and taking advantage of transition opportunities. Struggles at the charity stripe and 10 turnovers in the first half limited their impact, yet that mattered very little by the conclusion of the the third quarter.
Not only did New Orleans lose the third 41-27 out of the break, they also said goodbye to their head coach during the frame. Following a dispute about Josh Hart’s technical foul - where he thought Hart should have received a personal foul instead - Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry earned an ejection due to his emotions warranting multiple technical fouls. All nine Magic players who played in the third quarter scored, while only two Pelicans managed more than a single bucket.
Orlando held its largest lead at 25 points, but the game ended with an 11-point spread after a late push during fourth quarter garbage minutes. Entering this game, the Magic were the fourth worst three-point shooting team in the league, converting on just 33.3 percent. Even so, they were able to go 17-of-34 (50%) from behind the arc during Sunday’s contest. Orlando also finished with eight of nine players in double figures.
Take a look into some thoughts from the team following the establishment of a franchise-record losing streak... rather than going through the details of yet another sub-optimal performance.
He’s never faced a string of defeats quite like this, and the effects were evident tonight. But the decades of experience he carries don’t have him worried about his job security just yet…
“I’ve been in the league 31 years,” Gentry said. “I don’t every worry about anything that I don’t have any control over. I don’t have control over that, so you would have to ask that question to the people that control that. I just know that I’m going to come to work every day and do everything I can to get this turned around.”
As for the ejection: “Frustration boiled over for me tonight. I’ve got to do a better job with that also. But a foul is a foul. If a guy is fouled, it should be called.”
“We just have to continue on,” Gentry added. “We’ve got to keep playing, we’ve got to keep competing and we’ve got to try to put it together not for a half, not for three quarters, but for four quarters.”
Holiday, who posted a line of 29 points (12/20 FG), eight assists, four boards and four turnovers, has witnessed lower spirits than those currently in the Pelicans locker room during this streak. Irrespective of preseason expectations, he put it simply: “It still sucks.”
“It’s hard to lose, but it’s also hard to win,” Holiday said. “We just have to try to stay positive.”
“From a personal standpoint, I feel like we’re all competitors. Losing was never in our nature. We’re going to keep pushing it and trying to find a way to win. Once we figure out a way to win, try to replicate that. Just being positive really I feel like is the biggest part when a cloud is over you.”
“I’ve also been a part of a losing streak where it’s negative,” Holiday reflected. “That’s even worse than what it is now. Obviously, with some of the young guys, you don’t want them to think this is how it goes. Go back, everybody has to learn and everybody has to do better and play desperate.”
Ingram scored 21 points (9/16 FG) along with adding six rebounds, six dimes and three turnovers, but he struggled to stay on the court due to foul trouble plaguing his entire night. He had one takeaway afterwards on how to get the Pelicans back on their feet.
“Stay together,” Ingram said. “Continue to bring the defensive pressure, gain a rhythm on the offensive end, be good on the execution and continue to keep pushing.”
“I think we’re all together. I don’t think anybody has wavered or anything. I just think continue to push and figure out ways to execute better and win basketball games.”
Easier said than done with the Brooklyn Nets (13-12) coming into town next (7pm, FSNO). If the Pelicans can’t find a way to get into the win column Tuesday night, they’ll have to solve the riddle on he road as they go on a four-game road trip which doesn’t end until Christmas Day.