Defensive woes worsen as Davis-less Pelicans play Grizzlies
The New Orleans Pelicans already were struggling.
Now they're going to find out what life is like without Anthony Davis.
The All-Star forward suffered a sprained left index finger in a loss at Portland on Friday night and is expected to miss a week or two. That defeat dropped their record to 1-3 on a road trip that concludes Monday in Memphis.
"We've got to do better defensively," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "Every night (the opponent) is scoring 130, 140, 147 and we're not going to win games until we're able to guard somebody.
"We've got to be able to defend and we're not doing it. We're putting ourselves in a tough situation. Offensively, we can't score that many points every night to win."
Davis was an NBA All-Defensive player last season, but even with him in the lineup, New Orleans allowed 128 points to the Trail Blazers and 147 in a loss at Golden State two days earlier.
"You've got to keep your man in front of you and if you can't do it, we've got to find somebody who can," Gentry said. "You've got to guard your position. We can't keep having guys drop to the basket and lay it in."
The Pelicans and the Grizzlies have significant catching up to do if they're going to become one of the eight playoff teams in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies (19-27) have lost five straight after a 119-90 blowout at Toronto on Saturday.
"We just need to get right and be right," Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "That's the most important thing. Wins, losses, records, whatever it is, in order to build something that is sustainable you have to build a foundation first.
"We have to go back to who we are. We can't worry about how many games we're out or how many games we've lost. The only thing that matters is us becoming a better basketball team and us getting back to who we are."
New Orleans (21-25) and Memphis have split two meetings this season, both of which were played in New Orleans. The Grizzlies won 107-103 on Dec. 7, and the Pelicans won 114-95 on Jan. 7.
New Orleans' win was the middle game in a three-game winning streak that preceded the current Pelicans road trip.
It also was a part of a stretch during which the Grizzlies have lost 11 of 12.
"It's tough right now for us," Memphis guard Mike Conley said. "There have been guys in and out of the lineup. We're having to rely on a lot of younger guys in a time where we need to find some solid footing. We just have to find something to hang our hat on right now.
"I think offensively we're still searching and finding what kind of style we want to play. We're trying to play quicker, trying to be more free and I think it's leading to some turnovers for us. Defensively, we have our spurts with playing good basketball, but until we find that consistency from the offensive end, things will be challenging and we'll have to keep fighting."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 20, 2019