Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Wizards at Pelicans (3/9/18)

by Jim Eichenhofer

A look at three key numbers related to Friday’s game at the Smoothie King Center between Washington and New Orleans (7 p.m., Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM):

0: Games New Orleans has played this season without either Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins. Davis – who is listed as doubtful to play Friday due to a sprained ankle – has been sidelined for a total of six games this season, all between Oct. 26 and Jan. 10. Cousins appeared in all six of those, playing a big role in New Orleans salvaging a 3-3 record sans Davis, highlighted by wins over Portland and Denver, as well as a hard-fought, high-scoring defeat at Houston. The Pelicans likely won’t receive much sympathy from Washington (37-28), because the Wizards have already played 28 games this season without perennial All-Star point guard John Wall. The floor general has been sidelined since late January due to left knee surgery; Washington is 21-16 when Wall plays this season and 16-12 overall when he does not. Oddly, just as New Orleans’ current 10-game winning streak has come without the services of Cousins, Washington’s lengthiest win streak of five games (Jan. 27-Feb. 5) occurred without Wall playing.

21.0, 50.0: Scoring average and three-point percentage, respectively, for Nikola Mirotic during New Orleans’ perfect three-game West road trip to Dallas, the Clippers and Sacramento. After a slow starting shooting-wise for the trade acquisition from Chicago, Mirotic has been putting in extra work on his jumper recently, to excellent results. The forward, who likely will be a starter Friday if Davis is unable to play, made 13 of his 26 three-point attempts on the team’s trip and enjoyed 24- and 26-point outings against the Mavericks and Kings, respectively. Mirotic will hope to have his breakout game in the confines of the Smoothie King Center tonight, having struggled at home so far, shooting just 6/28 there at the three-point arc. He has not shot 50 percent from the floor in a Pelicans home game yet, but has done that three of the team’s last four road games.

3: Place in the Western Conference standings New Orleans (38-26) will be with a victory Friday, at least for a couple hours. The Pelicans can pull into a tie with current No. 3 Portland (39-26) by defeating the Wizards in the Smoothie King Center, but to remain in third, the Trail Blazers would also need to lose to Golden State at Moda Center tonight, in a game that tips off at 9 p.m. Central. New Orleans has the tiebreaking advantage on Portland based on a 2-1 season-series lead, with one matchup remaining in late March. The Pelicans also have the upper hand on fifth-place San Antonio (37-28) based on a 2-0 head-to-head lead, along with seventh-place Oklahoma City (38-29) based on a season-series clinch. Since New Orleans began its franchise record-tying winning streak Feb. 10, it has gained five games in the loss column on sixth-place Minnesota (38-29, 4-5 since Feb. 10), as well as seven on San Antonio (2-7 since Feb. 10). NOLA’s edge on ninth-place Denver (35-30) is up to 3.5 games.