Shootaround update: Thunder at Pelicans
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Updates from Friday morning’s shootaround at the New Orleans Arena:
• The Pelicans (9-9) enter Friday tied for 10th place in the Western Conference, part of an incredible logjam – particularly this deep into the season – that features three teams at exactly 9-9 and two others that are either 10-9 (Phoenix) or 9-10 (Minnesota). The eighth-place Warriors (11-8) are only 1.5 games ahead of the Pelicans. In their two most recent home games, New Orleans has dropped heartbreakers to seventh-place Dallas (12-8) and Golden State.
• Another fun fact from the current standings: the Pelicans are only two games in the loss column out of fourth place in the West. The L.A. Clippers and Houston are in fourth place at 13-7.
• The Pelicans and Thunder both rank in the top three of the NBA in fast-break points, which could make Friday’s game an up-tempo contest. Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon: “You have to match their intensity. We have to play our ballgame, running up and down the floor and getting easy baskets. Fast-break points are the easiest baskets you can get, besides free throws.”
• Gordon on the fact that Oklahoma City has lost two key players at his position over the past two offseasons, James Harden and Kevin Martin, yet still hasn’t seemed to skip a beat in the standings: “That team’s been together for a while. They have good chemistry. You can tell they trust each other on the floor, no matter who they have. But as long as they have (Russell) Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant, they’ll be fine.”
• Anthony Davis and Greg Stiemsma are out for New Orleans on the injury report. Oklahoma City, which has had unusually excellent luck avoiding injuries over the past several seasons, reports no one out of action for Friday’s game.