Battered Pelicans visit higher-scoring Bulls in Chicago
Victories have been rare for both the New Orleans Pelicans and the Chicago Bulls recently.
The Pelicans (23-31) have lost six of seven, and the Bulls (12-41) have lost five of six. But one of them will get a win when New Orleans visits Chicago on Wednesday night.
While the Pelicans' front office evaluates offers to honor All-Star forward Anthony Davis' trade request prior to Thursday's trade deadline, coach Alvin Gentry is trying to find a winning combination with a short-handed team.
Davis (finger) is among five of the team's top six scorers who have missed the last four games, the last three of which have been competitive defeats against teams currently in playoff positions.
The streak began with a 105-99 home loss to Denver a week a go, followed by a 113-108 loss at San Antonio on Saturday and a 109-107 home loss to Indiana on Monday.
"We've got to try to find a way to win games," Gentry said. "We're playing hard and playing well for some stretches, but we've got to be able to do it over the course of 48 minutes to where that eventually turns into wins."
Davis has been cleared to practice, but Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that the front office ordered for Davis to sit out ahead of Thursday's trade deadline. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported the Lakers are pulling out of trade talks for Davis, citing outrageous demands, though ESPN reports L.A. would still listen to counteroffers.
Forwards Julius Randle (ankle), E'Twaun Moore (quad) and Nikola Mirotic (calf) as well as guard Elfrid Payton (ankle) have also been sidelined. It remains to be seen which, if any, of them, might return against the Bulls.
"We don't have any depth because obviously the guys that would be playing for us, from a depth standpoint, are out on the floor," Gentry said. "We really don't have any depth because everybody else is in a suit."
The Bulls' latest loss was a 125-118 setback at Charlotte on Saturday, but they have started to establish an offensive identity under coach Jim Boylen, who was elevated from associate head coach when Fred Hoiberg was fired in early December.
Chicago has scored at least 100 points in 15 consecutive games, its longest such streak since the early 1990s, according to the team's official website.
"We are starting to establish a style of play," Boylen told the website. "Offensively, we are starting to play the way I hope we can play. I backed us down, slowed it down. We kind of crawled for a couple of weeks, and then we started walking and now I think we are starting to run with the multi ball-handlers we have and with getting some stops recently, getting us out in transition; it's been good for us.
"The ball has been moving around, we've been getting downhill, starting to establish that style of play offensively."
The increased scoring, however, has not been accompanied by consistent success on 3-pointers.
The Hornets made 14 3-pointers on Saturday, compared to nine for the Bulls, and enjoyed a 6-1 edge in the fourth quarter. It was the 14th time in the last 19 games that Chicago has been outscored on 3-pointers by its opponent.
"Our offense is growing and developing," Boylen said. "We are trying to play the right way."
Lauri Markkanen made all 13 of his free throws as Chicago was perfect on all 25 of its attempts.
"I think we are getting better and trying to be on the same page," Markkanen said. "We have to get the balance of guarding and preventing fast breaks and quality possessions on both ends of the floor. We are working every day and hope it's not for nothing and feel we are getting closer as a team; it's a process, for sure."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 5, 2019