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Lack of star availability has Pelicans teetering on brink of major disappointment

Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are on pace to sit out more games than they appear in this season

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans will be without Brandon Ingram, who will miss his second straight game after spraining his right ankle against the Mavericks, in tonight’s matchup against the Trail Blazers.

Ingram is on pace to play in the fewest amount of regular season games of his career. He’s made 31 appearances this season, and with only 14 games remaining after today, there’s no chance of eclipsing the 52 games played in his final campaign with the Lakers.

That analysis alone is disappointing. However, when factoring the Pelicans are fighting for their postseason lives — they’re starting the day in 11th, half a game out of the play-in tournament picture, that’s downright depressing to consider.

Meanwhile, there are other players around the league who are battling through injury, like the Warriors’ Draymond Green, but still play through maladies and plan to take the court despite feeling less than 100% because of where their teams sit in the standings.

There’s nothing more important than availability in this load management era, especially among a team’s stars.

“It forces us to be more aggressive and forces us to be basketball players,” Trey Murphy said yesterday. “When you have BI and Zion you can let them feed you because of their gravity and decision making. It is definitely different. At the end of the day you still have to play.”

A big reason why the Sacramento Kings are tied for second place in the Western Conference is because of fantastic health. Domantas Sabonis has missed two games; De’Aaron Fox, seven.

Meanwhile, Ingram and Zion Williamson have combined to miss 76 games to date.

In hindsight, there was good reason to have legitimate worries about this New Orleans team going back in January. If this Pelicans’ season finishes on the sourest of notes, it’ll be difficult to argue against those wishing to point fingers at Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (32-35) vs Portland Trail Blazers (31-36)

When: March 12, 6:00 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.