The New Orleans Pelicans have been in a free fall down the standings for the better part of this month, having lost eight of their last nine games, but the hope is a lengthy stay at home can cure some ills.
A six-game home stand begins tonight, with the Spurs up first on the docket. While San Antonio isn’t among the elite in the West anymore, they’re a disciplined opponent who won’t beat themselves. Case in point, the Spurs are arriving off an easy 121-101 victory last night against the Wizards, one of the worst teams in the league.
If you may recall, the Pelicans knocked off these Spurs during the first week of the season in a defensive 98-95 slugfest, but in order to notch another win, New Orleans is going to have to muster a showing reminiscent out of training camp. This means limiting the Spurs to a single shot attempt per possession, no easy driving lanes and not sending them frequently to the free throw line.
New Orleans’ odds of getting back into the victory column would also be much improved by another duplicate performance in the turnover category. The Pelicans committed a season-low eight miscues versus the Spurs, and they’re 4-2 on the season when they’ve registered 14 turnovers or less.
Considering San Antonio is averaging a league-low 10.3 turnovers and commits the second fewest amount of personal fouls (17.9), the Pelicans must match that intelligent level of play because they don’t generate a good deal of turnovers nor can they rely on a lot of easy baskets via the transition game or the three-point line.
Righting the ship against Gregg Popovich sounds like a tall order, and personally, I don’t like the Pelicans’ chances. Putting together four solid quarters has been a problem to say the least for New Orleans. They’re currently the worst-performing team in second quarters, and things haven’t been much better out of halftime in the third.
Depressed yet? Sorry for that. Among happier thoughts, the rate of losing and usual collapses can’t continue for infinity, right? Logic dictates that at some point a team with two growing stars in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson and several slumping players due for some positive regression like Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick could turn the tables and surprise.
Maybe we’ll see that script Monday evening.
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (5-10) vs San Antonio Spurs (9-8)
When: January 25, 8:00 p.m. Central
Where to watch: FSNO
Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM
For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.