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Pelicans have opportunity to get back into win column against Magic

New Orleans returns home after 0-2 road trip

New Orleans Pelicans v Orlando Magic Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Life comes at you fast…

The pendulum for the New Orleans Pelicans has swung back in the wrong direction.

After their blazing 4-0 start following the All-Star break, the Pels have suffered some painful setbacks, starting with an overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets and followed by last night’s rout at the hands (paws) of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Even the absence of Brandon Ingram doesn’t explain the beatdown New Orleans took in Bluff City.

The Grizzlies are what the Pelicans aspire to be. They are young, talented, deep, and they play with passion. So are the Pelicans. But the Grizzlies are not quite as young, and a little deeper. And they play with incredible consistency.

“I think for the majority of the season, we’ve always showed an ability to just maintain our poise, but more so just our confidence,” Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins said after the Grizzlies win over the Pelicans last night. “A guy gets hot, they go on a run, we call a timeout, we quickly try to figure out what we’ve got to do adjustment-wise, or just reemphasize, ‘Hey, transition D was a big priority tonight.’ They got off in the first quarter, and then we did a whole much better job as the game went on. So, it’s really just the collection of our guys understanding throughout the game, there’s games of runs. Are we just going to stay poised and stay the course and understand whatever’s thrown at us we’ll just adjust and make the appropriate changes? Or just reemphasize something a little bit more and go out and execute better? Tonight was an example of that as they were making their runs.”

That’s where the Pelicans need improvement. That’s why they haven’t had a win streak longer than four games in nearly four years.

However, all is not lost. The Pels return home tonight to face the Orlando Magic to begin a four-game home stand of winnable games.

The last home stand didn’t go so well, with New Orleans providing too much hospitality in going 2-4 at the Smoothie King Center prior to the break.

Hopefully things go better against Orlando, Charlotte, Houston and Phoenix.

The Pels have gone 4-3 against that quartet so far this season, including a 110-104 win over the Magic back on Dec. 23.

Despite having only 16 wins, the Magic have been playing better of late. They come to The Blender having lost their last two, but have won three of their last six overall.

The oddsmakers currently list the Pelicans as 7.5-point favorites. However, New Orleans isn’t good enough to look past anyone, and as long as Willie Green is coaching you shouldn’t expect the Pels to try to.

If Ingram is good to go, the rotation should fall back into place.

If the Pelicans play their usual level of defense, they should be able to handle possibly the NBA’s worst offensive team.


The Pels only have nine home games remaining. Almost half of those are coming over the next week.

It’s time for the Pelicans to close the deal and it has to start with a victory over the Magic.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (27-38) vs Orlando Magic (16-50)

When: March 9, 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.