New Orleans — Now 9 games past the halfway point in the season, the Pelicans are still battling injuries and fighting to get above 500. They have not had a winning record since November 23, when they were (10-9) on the season. Saturday night they lost their third-straight game, and 5th in the last six, falling to (22-28) on the season. They have now had a losing record for 6 weeks (since December 16).
Getting this team healthy is the first step toward a post-season push for the Pelicans, who are five and a half games back from that 8th playoff spot. Depth was going to be one of the Pelicans strengths this season, but injuries along the way and a major lack of bench production have derailed that hope. While they have Elfrid Payton back from his finger injury, they are now without Anthony Davis (finger), Niko Mirotic (calf) and Julius Randle (ankle). That’s left Jrue Holiday to do most of the heavy lifting, and he has stepped-up as much as he can, leading the team in scoring the last four games. In those four, he’s also led the team in assists in three of those, and was the leading rebounder in one.
Ahead of New Orleans are the Rockets (28-20), Nuggets (33-15), Spurs (28-22) and Pacers (32-16), who are all solidly in the playoff hunt in the top six of their conference standings. Adding to the challenging schedule ahead, their next two are an away-home back-to-back. They play at Houston Tuesday and return home to host Denver on Wednesday night.