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Pelicans have perspective but are eager to make amends for several recent losses in matchup against Spurs

New Orleans has an opportunity to get back to their winning ways with four of the next five games at home

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are looking for their first victory in 11 days, but there will be not be an overabundance of anxiety prior to tonight’s tip-off against the San Antonio Spurs in the locker room.

“It’s just a point of the season where you win a bunch of games, and everybody’s feeling good, and then you lose some,” Willie Green said after yesterday’s practice. “We just want to have more of a balance on how we attack the season and then perspective.

“This is what I told our guys and staff, ‘Look, we’ve been whole for eight or nine games.’ If you told our team at the beginning of the season that we would be a game out of first place, third or fourth in the West, after 30 games and only being healthy for nine games, would you take it? Everyone said yes.”

The regular starting lineup of CJ McCollum, Herb Jones, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas has appeared in ten of the first 30 games. Savvy fans know this. However, I’ll bet most are not aware of the fact that the starting lineup remains the most used 5-man group to date — their games played (10) and minutes (113) lead the team.

The next most used lineups have appeared in only nine games together and a lot less minutes, including one with Dyson Daniels, the rookie who didn’t get on the court for eight of the first 12 games not the schedule.

The New Orleans head coach isn’t wrong to preach about keeping a good amount of perspective; however, none of this doesn’t dismiss the mistakes or prior letdowns.

“Last 10 were solid, we let two slip away,” Green said. “The second game in Utah and then the game in Phoenix, those were two winnable games. So we went 6-4. We had an opportunity to go 8-2. We’ve got to win the games that we’re supposed to win.”

As Green also noted yesterday, there are things that need to be cleaned up defensively and that’s apparent in the numbers as well as the eye test.

Block of games W/L Record Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Net Rating
Games 1-10 5-5 114.7 (6) 111.0 (15) +3.7 (8)
Games 11-20 7-3 114.0 (7) 107.1 (2) +7.0 (2)
Games 21-30 6-4 115.9 (5) 112.0 (12) +3.9 (6)

Watching Devin Booker torch the Pelicans for 58 points or Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez combine to score 72 points on 34 field goal attempts should be considered breakdowns. As are self-inflicted wounds, like the abnormally high amount of points of turnovers or second chance points given up of late.

The Pelicans will be without Brandon Ingram for at least another couple of games, per Green, and Zion Williamson was placed in health and safety protocols yesterday, but that will not prevent them from making adjustments and continuing to seek ways to win games.

New Orleans has a particularly envious stretch coming up, with four of the next five games at home. However, they know they must do more than simply show up at the arena because now they’re hunted with sitting near the top of the West.

“We’re not a team that everyone is going to sleep on,” Jose Alvarado said. “We were first in the West, and those teams we played, they said,’ alright, we’re going to show you why y’all shouldn’t be first.’ We’ve got to show them why we should be.”

Jose’s right. Let’s see it, Pels.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (18-12) vs San Antonio Spurs (10-20)

When: December 22, 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.