NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans have played 53 games this season and have 20 wins and 33 losses.
Last season, after 53 games, the Pelicans had…
You guessed it, 20 wins and 33 losses.
Last season, we were told, was the byproduct of a historic amount of injuries to the team’s core. The Pelicans lost nearly 350 games to injury in 2015-16, the most in the NBA in five years.
But this season was all about the newfound depth on the roster. General Manager Dell Demps told media during his preseason press conference (the last time Demps has made any public comments about the team) that he had built a roster in the mold of the Boston Celtics.
Looking at the most recent NBA standings the Celtics have 33 wins, good for second in the Eastern Conference and the sixth highest win total in the league.
The Pelicans are not the Celtics.
After Wednesday night’s 127-94 loss to the Utah Jazz, New Orleans is now tied for 12th in the Western Conference with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Los Angeles Lakers (18-37) and Phoenix Suns (16-37) are now both within shouting distance of the Pels, who have lost five of their last six games.
The 33-point loss to the Jazz was the team’s worst of the season and the fifth worst loss in the history of the franchise.
There’s not much to say about this most recent blowout. At least not anything that hasn’t been said 33 other times this season.
“[Utah] beat us in every phase of the game,” said Head Coach Alvin Gentry. “Their execution was flawless. Defensively, they made it tough for us to get into any kind of offensive set and they shot the ball well.”
Most of the post-game quotes from the players echoed the same sentiments; “the Jazz are very good, they hit their shots, we didn’t hit our shots.”
Everyone except for the newest Pelican, Donatas Motiejunas. Maybe he hasn’t been with the team long enough to learn the company lines. “They are the perfect example of how we should play,” he said. “In this position today, we played like an amateur league team. So, there’s nothing else to say. It’s just embarrassing.”
It was. Sadly, it was just the latest in a series of unfortunate events that Lemony Snicket wouldn’t dare to imagine.
There was the eight-game losing streak to start the season, a 27-point home loss to the Lakers, helping the 76ers end their year-long road losing streak, and of course the 29-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets at the Smoothie King Center.
The Pelicans have a losing record at home (14-15) and on the road (6-18).
We’ve all been seduced into thinking that this team could turn it around. But it’s time to stop.
The Pelicans have six wins against teams currently slated to make the playoffs. They have four losing streaks of three games or more and just two win streaks of that length. They haven’t won back-to-back games in a month.
Small ball didn’t work. Inserting Buddy Hield into the starting lineup didn’t work. Nothing has worked.
I would never question a player’s heart or a coach’s work ethic. Those things aren’t measurable and they aren’t part of my job covering this team.
I can only write about what I see. Right now, what I see is a team that says the right things, but is doing the wrong ones. There’s no reason to believe that’s going to change, not with nearly two thirds of the season gone and an incredibly demanding stretch run ahead.
And that’s a shame.
But on the bright side, All-Star Weekend is just over a week away. For a few days, basketball can be fun again and aren’t we all looking forward to that?