Pelicans focus on continuing to improve chemistry over final 10 days of season

NBA head coaches often say there’s no reason to spend time thinking about what could have been, but Alvin Gentry was blunt Sunday when asked about New Orleans’ current situation as it relates to a postseason berth. The Pelicans (33-43) enter tonight’s game vs. Chicago (37-39) five games out of eighth place in the Western Conference and 10 games under .500, a record that was severely damaged by a 2-10 start in October/November.

“I would normally say no, that I don’t ever look back, but I’d be lying,” Gentry said, partly about the Pelicans running out of time to reach the postseason. “I look at it in a couple ways. If Jrue (Holiday’s) situation (where he missed the season’s first 12 games while caring for wife Lauren) wasn’t what it was and we don’t start (2-10), where could we be? And obviously we’ve got basically another 10 days of the season (left); what would happen if we had another month and a half?

“Those are things that you think about. But to me, the most important thing is we’ve got to continue to make strides in what we’re trying to put together. I think you can see that the guys are offensively now getting a feel of what we’re trying to do, and defensively they’ve been good all year. (Darren Erman) has done a great job with our defense, when you can jump (20-plus) spots (in defensive efficiency). That’s a huge, huge jump.”

New Orleans has won eight of its last 11 games, but due to Portland's recent hot streak, hasn't gained ground on eighth place. Both teams only have six games left in the 82-game schedule.

Other notes from pregame at the Smoothie King Center:

Gentry on one objective over the final six games: “We want to continue to try to develop chemistry between (Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins), and seeing how those three guys (including Jrue Holiday) fit in together. (Also) having Jrue off the ball and what does that do for him. There are a lot of things we have to continue to look at and work on.” …

Alexis Ajinca’s status for Sunday’s game was uncertain. He was listed as questionable on the injury report due to a hip injury. “We’ll have to wait and see,” Gentry said of the 7-foot-2 center. “It’s one of those things where (he got hit) and you think it’s OK, but then it’s not.”