Pelicans get second chance in week to feast on Cavs
The New Orleans Pelicans have won back-to-back games for the first time in a long time.
The Cleveland Cavaliers haven't won any games in a long time.
They'll face each other for the second time in five days on Wednesday night in New Orleans.
The Pelicans' handed the Cavaliers their ninth consecutive loss with a 133-98 thrashing on Saturday in Cleveland. That streak grew to 10 when the Cavaliers (8-33) concluded a four-game homestand with a 123-115 loss to Indiana on Tuesday.
New Orleans (19-22) followed its victory against the Cavaliers with a 114-95 triumph at home against Memphis on Monday. That gave the Pelicans consecutive victories for the first time since they won three straight games from Nov. 16-19.
"I just thought it was a really good team win for us because I thought, defensively, the last two games we've been really, really solid," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.
It was the type of game New Orleans has been most successful at -- one that isn't decided in the final moments. The Pelicans are 4-10 in games decided by five points or less.
"When we've been losing it's usually within five points or less," guard Jrue Holiday said.
New Orleans concluded the first half of its schedule Monday night and stood three games under .500 and outside of the eight playoff spots in the Western Conference. But the Pelicans are still within striking distance in the tightly bunched conference.
"I think we're doing all right," Holiday said. "We've got some guys coming back."
Starting forwards E'Twaun Moore (quad) and Nikola Mirotic (ankle) sat out Monday. Moore was injured against the Cavaliers and is day-to-day. Mirotic has missed the past 12 games because of an ankle injury, but is expected back soon.
The Cavaliers haven't won since Dec. 18, when they beat the Pacers, who avenged the setback on Tuesday.
Five of Cleveland's losses during its current skid have come by 20 or more points. The homestand featured defeats by 25, 26 and 35 points.
Indiana led by as many as 26 in the third quarter, but the Cavaliers climbed within three points four times in the last three minutes before succumbing.
"If you love this game and you care about being a competitor, you're going to hate times like these," center Tristan Thompson said on the team's website. "You're going to have sleepless nights and it's going to mess with you."
Things got worse for the Cavaliers when starting forward Larry Nance Jr. left Tuesday's game after injuring his right knee in the first quarter. He did not return.
Coach Larry Drew already was contemplating lineup changes before Nance's injury.
"In this type situation you have to search until you can find it," Drew told Cleveland.com. "I don't know if changing the lineup will do it. We can't continue to go at this rate. I refuse to.
"I think it's important that these guys understand that one, it's just not acceptable and two, I'm not going to accept it and let this continue at this pace. I've got to try something different. I've got to do something different to see if we can get some positive results."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 9, 2019