The New Orleans Pelicans managed to pull off victories in their last two road contests despite a short-handed roster. They’re hoping to bring that fortune back to New Orleans, where they’ve dropped six in a row.
On Sunday they’ll try to knock off the Orlando Magic, who haven’t won on the road in more than a month.
Both clubs have struggled mightily in recent weeks, combining to go 5-21 in 2014. New Orleans (17-25) continues to battle numerous injuries, with three of its top six scorers – Jrue Holiday (stress fracture), Ryan Anderson (herniated disk) and Jason Smith (knee) – all sidelined indefinitely.
Tyreke Evans also sat out Friday’s contest in Detroit due to illness, but the Pelicans still claimed a 103-101 win on a floater from Eric Gordon with 1.9 seconds left. They also survived a brief scare in the fourth quarter when Anthony Davis was OK after appearing to suffer an injury on a hard fall.
"Obviously, we’re short-handed right now," Anthony Morrow, who scored 13 of his season-high 21 in the fourth quarter after not playing the last three games, told the team’s website. "We’re not making any excuses. We showed a lot of character tonight. Guys fought through it and guys stepped up."
New Orleans won despite a 30-4 third-quarter run by the Pistons and a season-high 21 turnovers, including seven by Gordon.
"Morrow was really big for us hitting shots," coach Monty Williams said. "For Eric, he played one of his worst games but in the end, he was able to scoop that shot up and make a layup at the end. It was a big win for us."
Williams’ club – which also won at Memphis on Monday – now looks to end its home woes. After starting 9-5 on their home floor, the Pelicans have dropped six straight while averaging 94.2 points and letting opponents shoot 49.7 percent. Though Davis is averaging a double-double during the skid, Gordon is 5 for 23 in his last two home contests.
They last dropped seven in a row at home from Dec. 5, 2012-Jan. 1, 2013.
Facing Orlando (12-32) and its league-worst 3-18 road record might provide a temporary cure. The Magic have dropped seven straight away from home, last winning on Dec. 16 in Chicago.
Friday’s 114-105 home victory over the Lakers was just their second in 14 games overall. Tobias Harris scored 28 points with a career-high 20 rebounds to lead three players who scored at least 22.
Orlando had been bogged down by poor third-quarter play, averaging 17.0 points with 29.8 percent field-goal shooting over their last three games. After trailing by two at halftime Friday, the Magic were 12 of 20 in the third period while outscoring Los Angeles 38-25.
"We haven’t been great in the third quarter the last few games, but this time, we took a punch and didn’t wilt," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Our first unit responded and the guys who came in off the bench held up their end of the bargain. That was good to see."
Orlando continues to deal with injury issues of its own with leading rebounder Nikola Vucevic (11.0 rpg) missing the last 10 contests due to a concussion.