New Orleans Pelicans Weekly Recap: Running out of time after four more losses

There isn’t much more room for 1-4 weeks as the New Orleans Pelicans fall further and further out of the playoff hunt.

Despite the return of two players from injury, the New Orleans Pelicans fell victim to the schedule gods this week. There wasn’t much to be happy about, but we tried our best to find a silver lining.

Tuesday and Thursday at home might still be the best consecutive pair of games the team has played all year, for what it’s worth.

LAST WEEK

Tuesday vs. Golden State Warriors: 113-109 L

No three-point records broken, no 45-point performances, no national television broadcast. Just a slobberknocker between two teams who are building quite a history of contentious matches.

Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry (57 points combined) were met by Anthony Davis and Langston Galloway (48 points combined) in a high-scoring affair. Most every other player on each team struggled on Tuesday, but it was the beginning of a nice week rebounding the ball for Terrence Jones, who tallied 31 rebounds in four games this week.

There was also this, which was great:

OUR PLAYER GRADES FOR THE CLOSE ONE

Thursday vs. Indiana Pacers: 102-95 W

Frame this game and have it put up in a New Orleans sports museum as the only one that matters from the 2016-17 Pelicans season. What a complete performance!

Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Buddy Hield accounted for 72 points, 27 rebounds, and 16 assists against a second-tier Eastern Conference playoff team. That’s exactly the kind of well-rounded performance we were all expecting from this team in October. When that version of the Pelicans shows up (along with the return of Tyreke Evans and his euro-stepping brilliance), they can compete with anybody, as evidenced by Thursday’s victory.

When that trio is surrounded by excellent defense, like that of E’Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill down the stretch, or a double-double like Terrence Jones’s, they’re nearly unstoppable. They outscored the Pacers by ten in the fourth quarter.

OUR PLAYER GRADES FROM THE ‘MASTERPIECE’

Friday @ Houston Rockets: 122-100 L

Not a great way to show Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson what they’re missing. The duo of former Pelicans is currently playing alongside an MVP candidate and in line for homecourt advantage in the playoffs.

On Friday night, they broke the NBA’s single-game record for made 3-pointers. Things are going much better in Houston than NOLA, and Gordon and Anderson got to show out against their former team in the biggest way possible. That one’s gonna sting for awhile.

At face value though, not a horrible loss. That up-tempo approach is not one the Pelicans are built to defend at less-than-full strength, especially not on the back-end of a road back-to-back.

OUR PLAYER GRADES FROM THE SCHEDULE LOSS

Sunday @ San Antonio Spurs: 113-100 L

I all but assumed LaMarcus Aldridge would no-show in last night’s matchup against the Spurs, and that was a dumb thing to do. He’s been unimpressive overall this season, and was ineffective in the teams’ early-season meeting, but scored 22 points to lead a balanced Spurs attack on Sunday.

Once it was announced that the Spurs would be retiring Tim Duncan‘s jersey following the game on Sunday, it was all but certain that the Spurs would win. There was no way Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili were going to let their former ball-hugging teammate be dishonored with a loss.

Also, the Spurs are a better team than the Pelicans.

BEST OF PELICAN DEBRIEF

It was a quiet week here at PD. The holidays can be that way. We hope you’ve been enjoying time spent with your loved ones and preparing for 2017; in the meantime, a nice present for under your metaphorical tree: Omer Asik is “very available” according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England.

BEST OF THE REST OF THE WEB

Justin Verrier of ESPN.com details the special relationship and history between the Rockets and Pelicans, and how those connections make the blowout loss more damning. From Mike D’Antoni and Alvin Gentry sharing a bench early this decade, to Eric Gordon signing an offer sheet to play for Gentry five seasons ago, to Gordon and Ryan Anderson’s time with the Pelicans, there are numerous interesting links between the squads.

THIS WEEK

Only three games!

Tuesday @ Philadelphia 76ers

Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Friday vs. Miami Heat

These are actually three winnable games as well, so the Pelicans will have the opportunity to put this rough week behind them. If they can exorcise their Sixers demons, overcome the Russell Westbrook-mobile, and outplay a less talented team in Miami, a 3-0 week will make 12 wins to only 20 losses.

A more reachable goal might be 2-1, but we’re running out of time for reachable.

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