New Orleans (33-44) technically still has an extremely slim mathematical chance to reach the 2017 playoffs, but the conversation at times has begun to turn to next season, as the Pelicans assess what must be done to put themselves in optimum position.
Prior to the final home game for New Orleans of 2016-17 tonight, second-year head coach Alvin Gentry gave an overview of what’s taken place in the first 77 games and what he’s learned about his team.
“It’s been a roller-coaster,” Gentry described of an up-and-down campaign on the court. “We struggled at the start, because obviously we missed Jrue (Holiday) tremendously (while going 2-10 without him).
“In between, we played some good basketball. We couldn’t really put together any consistency, and a lot of that was because we had guys in and out, in and out. I think the last month we played good basketball. It’s just kind of a ‘what it could be.’
“Adding DeMarcus (Cousins) to the mix has been an adjustment, but I think everyone can see that those two guys (Cousins and Anthony Davis) can coexist and be very effective. We’ve just got to find a way to make the whole thing come together.”
Other notes from pregame at the Smoothie King Center:
Gentry lauded the play of Davis this season, saying he would like to see the four-time All-Star add another line to his individual resume when postseason awards are handed out by the NBA.
“AD’s had a great year,” Gentry said. “I’ll be really disappointed if he’s not on the first-team All-NBA, because I don’t think anybody’s played to the level he has consistently, night in and night out. And to me, the other great thing about it is he’s going to play over 70 games this year. For him, that’s quite an accomplishment, because he’s had some struggles injury-wise and things like that.” …
Denver’s Michael Malone on Davis and Cousins: “A very formidable frontline. Think about this: DeMarcus is shooting 50 percent from the three-point line over the last five games. So they have an inside-outside attack, two guys that can score in a number of different ways. We’ll have to give them different looks, help our bigs out at times, get aggressive and also make them defend at the other end. Heck of a challenge. That frontcourt, if they can stay together, has a chance to be very, very special.” …
Malone said Jameer Nelson (calf strain) and Will Barton (foot) are both out for the Nuggets due to injuries. Darrell Arthur also likely is out, due to left knee soreness.