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Pelicans must get comfortable with 2022-23 season being difficult

To meet their own lofty expectations, New Orleans must start displaying the mindset and tendencies of a top 3 team

New Orleans Pelicans v Chicago Bulls Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Pelicans will look to rebound from their first two-game losing streak of the season and New Orleans’ head coach sounds confident about the matchup against the Bulls in Chicago tonight.

“We had a good practice,” Willie Green said yesterday. “We didn’t do a ton, but the things that we did do, we did them hard. We did them with the right intentions and mindset. That’s important for our group to just understand it’s a long season, and when we have opportunities to get into practice or shootaround, we have to be sharp. We weren’t sharp against Indiana.”

New Orleans fell behind 9-0 before scoring their first points against the Pacers on Monday. While the offense would soon go on to find its groove, the defense took far too long to snap out of its funk.

“I reiterated to our guys in the locker room this morning, that my eyes didn’t deceive me,” Green said. “My mind was on point and all the numbers show we just didn’t start the game with the defensive mindset that we need to. We can score. We have one of the top-rated offenses, but defensively we have to come in and set a tone.”

Indiana scored 129 points in all. They knocked down 22 3-pointers. Myles Turner, who is averaging 12.8 points per game over his career, put up 37 points.

The Pacers franchise best mark for made 3-pointers is 23. Turner’s highest scoring game in eight NBA seasons is 40 points.

New Orleans cannot allow opponents to cook to the point of records potentially being set. That means punching first, even if the bodies and minds are tired.

With seven of the first 10 games coming on the road, the Pelicans have barely slept in their own beds since the season began. But excuses must be stamped out if doing something special remains the objective.

“They have to get comfortable with this season being hard,” Green said. “If we want to achieve anything special, it’s going to be difficult. And that’s okay. Anything worth having is hard to get. Easy for us is the play-in game, I guess. But hard is a top 3 team in the West. Those are some of the big picture things we’re looking at.”

A top 3 finish would be a fantastic accomplishment, but first things first, the Pelicans must start playing like a team that’s willing to fight for 48 minutes. They showed that type of tenacity in wins over the Nets and Mavericks; however, those memories are beginning to fade.

Since those victories, New Orleans has dropped several winnable games to the Lakers and Hawks, were in a dogfight for far too long with a Warriors team missing four regular starters and then, of course, the Pacers debacle happened.

One player who has faith the team is trending in the right direction is Brandon Ingram.

"I feel good about any matchup with our team, especially with our young group, our stars on the team,” Ingram said in a Fanatics interview. “We’re continuing to learn about each other, but we’ve made progress every single game.”

The Pelicans will have to show significant progress from two days ago if leaving Chicago with a win is the goal. The Bulls aren’t world beaters, and they’ll be without Lonzo Ball and Coby White, but DeMar DeRozan is off to great start. Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic can go off at any time too.

Closing out the three-game road trip with a victory sounds infinitely better than registering another loss and getting swept on this jaunt through the East.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (5-5) at Chicago Bulls (6-6)

When: November 9, 2022, 7:00 p.m. CT

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, League Pass

Where to listen: WRNO 99.5

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.