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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans hope to break losing streak against Phoenix Suns

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If Jrue Holiday or JJ Redick can get in a groove alongside Brandon Ingram, that would significantly increase the Pelicans odds of winning.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans hope to snap a six-game losing streak tonight by knocking off the Phoenix Suns for a second time this season. A week before Thanksgiving, the Pelicans had edged out the Suns 124-121 in Phoenix as Brandon Ingram led the way with 28 points, scoring the team’s final nine points.

Since that meeting on November 21, the Suns have continued to drop down in the standings, winning only twice in six tries. This includes a 128-114 loss to the Magic last night in Orlando where Aaron Gordon was nearly perfect from the field, missing only two of 15 shots en route to 32 points. Thanks to the lopsided loss, however, head coach Monty Williams thinks his team will be eager to respond against the Pelicans.

Aron Baynes, the Suns typical starting center, is expected to miss tonight’s contest with a strained left calf. They’ve missed his tough interior presence and have been forced to rely on Frank Kaminsky and Cheick Diallo as Deandre Ayton continues to serve out his 25-game suspension for violating terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for a diuretic. On the flip side, Phoenix should pose a threat to New Orleans as Ricky Rubio, the experienced floor general, will play after sitting out November’s matchup.

Like the Pelicans, the Suns score often and launch plenty of three-balls. They are averaging the sixth-highest number of points per game (114.4) and attempt the eighth-most amount of three-pointers (35.6). With Devin Booker (24.1 points) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (17.3 points) leading the charge, the Suns offensive output is usually good. Defensive lapses of late have been the concern.

Including the November 21st matchup, the Suns are giving up 118.6 points per game to opponents over their last seven games. Conversely, the Pelicans are allowing 118.7 points over the same span. The results should’t come as a surprise, though, when factoring that both teams have missed their usual starters at power forward and center. As I feared early in the season, without Derrick Favors or Zion Williamson, the Pelicans were going to have an incredibly tough time getting stops and things have unfolded as such.

For New Orleans to break the six-game losing streak, the recipe is simple: have the team firing on all offensive cylinders, with a couple of players hopefully surpassing the 20-point barrier. Brandon Ingram has been a wonderful constant this season, but he’s not always enjoyed having a strong sidekick. For as long as Zion Williamson's remains out, that player needs to be either Jrue Holiday or JJ Redick. In the Pelicans six wins, Holiday is averaging 22.3 points per game while Redick, 19.7. In the team’s 15 losses, Holiday’s average drops to 17.9 points per game and Redick, 13.1.

One boost that would help the Pelicans fortunes immensely: getting either Kenrich Williams or Derrick Favors back in time for tonight’s matchup. Both players were upgraded to questionable yesterday, and if either or both could go, their presence would shore up the defense and the rebounding department immediately.

Geaux Pels!

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (6-15) vs Phoenix Suns (9-11)

Where: Smoothie King Center

When: Tuesday, December 5th, 2019 7:00 PM CST

How: Fox Sports New Orleans