Pelicans look for road win against struggling Wizards
WASHINGTON — The New Orleans Pelicans will take yet another crack at figuring out their issues on the road Saturday, while the Washington Wizards are just looking for positives anywhere they can find them.
Adding to the questions surrounding Saturday’s Pelicans-Wizards matchup in the nation’s capital is the status of New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, who left Friday’s game at New York against the Knicks with right quad and hip injuries.
Davis did return in the final two minutes and scored in the closing seconds, but his late presence was not enough to avoid another road defeat.
A compromised Davis would only add to New Orleans’ problems away from home. The Pelicans will head to Washington, D.C., with a 2-8 record on the road after a 114-109 defeat to the Knicks.
Like the Pelicans, the Wizards also will be playing on the tail end of back-to-back games Saturday. Washington went to Toronto on Friday night, and erased a double-digit deficit in the first half to gain a third-quarter lead, but ultimately fell 125-107 to the Raptors.
That third-quarter lead, coupled with a 125-118 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday could be signs that the Wizards are about to trend in a positive direction. The Wizards know, though, that they need more than signs to start meeting expectations after a 6-12 start to the season.
“We’ve still got a lot to fix — it’s one game,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal told reporters this week after the victory Clippers. “I’m still not happy and I know (our team) isn’t happy with where we are. We have a lot of work to do, but we definitely take a lot of positives out of (the victory). Especially with all the negativity that’s been surrounding us, we take all the positives we can get.”
There were even positives to be taken from the defeat to the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors as Beal scored 20 points and John Wall added 11 assists. At issue, though, was the Wizards’ 9-of-46 shooting (19.6 percent) from 3-point range.
Only a handful of NBA teams are a better home team than the Pelicans, who are 8-1 in their own building. Airplanes and hotels, though, have not been the Pelicans’ friend.
A positive sign for the Pelicans is that they are about to play a dysfunctional Wizards team. But predicting how New Orleans might play on the road has not been so simple.
They went down to the wire at Philadelphia this week, before ultimately losing to a 76ers team that is 10-1 at home. Then they struggled to break free from the Knicks on Friday, although playing without Davis after his third-quarter injury did not help.
“We’re coming out flat,” Davis said of the team’s road struggles. “You know, we’re not coming out with the same energy as we do at home, especially in the first quarter. We get so far behind that the game kind of has to go perfect for us. We tend to come back but when you’re playing on the road, it’s tough enough as it is, and we make it even harder on ourselves.”
On Wednesday, Davis became the eighth youngest player to reach 10,000 points when he dropped in an easy alley-oop dunk in the second quarter at Philadelphia. The road to his next 10,000 is off to a bumpy start.