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With Ingram flying high, Pelicans hope to ground Rockets again

The newest Western Conference player of the week is on some kind of run!

New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

Things are looking good right now.

The New Orleans Pelicans are 20-20 over their last 40 games, Brandon Ingram is the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, and the Pels are about to start a stretch of six consecutive home games after completing a 3-0 road trip.

It’s the first time New Orleans has won three straight on the road since last season. You have to give the Pelicans credit, after four straight losses they’ve bounced back with a win on the second night of a back-to-back against the Pistons, went to Denver and beat the Nuggets, and then blew out the Rockets.

The average margin of victory has been 10.3 points per game during the current streak. When the Pels won four straight back in December, it was just under seven (6.75).

How have they done it?

The typically shall we say “offensively challenged” Pelicans have the NBA’s sixth best offense over the past three games (117.8). On defense New Orleans is ranked 11th, checking in with a 108.7 rating.

The Pels’ net rating of 9.1 is good for fifth in the NBA.

Ingram earned his POTW honors with good reason. He’s playing like a true number one and his eye-popping numbers don’t begin to tell the story. BI is a legitimate star in this league, someone capable of lifting the play of those around him.

New Orleans has gotten tremendous play from its front court tandem of Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes with them combining for more than 32 points and 16 rebounds each night.

Herbert Jones continues to play at a level beyond his years, spearheading the Pelicans victory over the Nuggets with as complete an offensive and defensive performance as you are likely to see.

And then there’s the continued surprisingly effective play of Jose Alvarado, who has become a spark plug off the bench and one of the most interesting stories of the season.

It hasn’t mattered that Devonte’ Graham hasn’t shot the ball well, and that the bench remains thin and inconsistent.

It hasn’t mattered that there continues to be no real information on the status of Zion Williamson.

The Pelicans are on a roll. They enjoy playing with and for each other, and fans are enjoying watching them do that.

There are those that will laugh at being proud to have reached tenth place in the West.

It isn’t where the Pelicans want to be, but look at how far they’ve come. There’s joy to be had in that progress.

There’s pride to be taken in scratching, clawing, and climbing from the depths of a 1-12 start.

The chance at reaching the postseason isn’t something the Pelicans have to hope for anymore. They have it.

What matters now is what they do with it.

Six straight games at the Smoothie King Center will go a long way in determining that. The Pelicans must start this rare, lengthy homestand with a victory over the Rockets.

New Orleans is as close to healthy as it’s going to get over the course of the season, and reinforcements may be arriving prior to the deadline.

It’s time. The Pelicans have something to prove. To themselves and to a fan base that has held on for dear life, waiting for a reason to believe more than they already do.

Ground the Rockets and let’s go from there.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (21-32) vs Houston Rockets (15-38)

When: February 8, 2022, 7:00 p.m.

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, NBA League Pass

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 @DMGrubb.