Following the tough loss to the Pacers — a winnable game that slipped through their fingers, the Pelicans will look to bounce back against the Thunder on Wednesday night at the Smoothie King Center.
In their largest margin of victory to date, New Orleans destroyed OKC by a 113-80 score on New Year’s Eve. Seven Pelicans scored in double figures, with Brandon Ingram’s 20 points leading the way. If you may recall, Ingram also only lasted 26 minutes as he was thrown out following a Flagrant 2 foul on Isaiah Roby.
Early this season, the Thunder have proven to possess the league’s worst offense (99.2 offensive rating — 30th). No team has struggled to hit their outside shot more than OKC (31.4 3PT% — 30th) and their free throw shooting is abysmal, too (68.8 FT% — 29th). Toss in a high turnover percentage (16.9 TOV% — 28th) and it’s clear to see why the Thunder are barely average over 100 points per game (100.5 PPG — 30th).
As to where the Pelicans have two 20+ point scorers in Brandon Ingram (25.0 PPG) and Zion Williamson (20.3 PPG), the Thunder don’t boast a single one, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (18.7 PPG) and Luguentz Dort (14.2 PPG) leading the way for OKC.
However, the Pelicans must avoid looking past the Thunder. Following a 118-107 win in OKC, the Magic dropped a 108-99 contest less than a week later to the Thunder in Orlando. While OKC lacks an intimidating roster, they’re still an NBA team that’s capable of getting hot and pulling off the upset.
It’s honestly important for New Orleans to not drop another winnable game on this home stand. Following tonight’s contest, the Pelicans will welcome the Charlotte Hornets Friday before then heading out on a grueling 7-game road trip against the Western Conference. Matchups against the Mavericks, Lakers, Clippers and two in Utah versus the Jazz could fast put a huge dent in the W/L record.
Thus, in addition to finding a path to victory versus the Thunder, it would behoove the Pelicans to help JJ Redick snap out of his frigid shooting slump.
JJ Redick is a game away from being synonymous with Kenrich Williams and James Posey in Nola record books.— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) January 6, 2021
JJ's made one FG in each of the last 6 gms while playing at least 17 minutes per gm. Kenrich had a streak of 7 such gms (1 FGM or less) last season and Posey in 2009-10.
While they’re fast proving capable of leading the team, Ingram and Zion are going to need reliable support against the best in the West soon. Having Redick firing on all cylinders during a testing road trip could mean the difference between an additional surprise win or two.
Sindarius Thornwell will miss tonight’s contest. Per the official New Orleans injury report, the reserve guard/forward has been ruled out (health and safety protocols). For the Thunder, they will be without Trevor Ariza (not with team), Ty Jerome (left ankle sprain) and Aleksej Pokusevski (concussion protocols).
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (4-3) vs OKC Thunder (2-4)
When: January 6, 7:00 p.m. Central
Where to watch: FSNO
Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM