New Orleans players and coaches celebrate JJ Redick's go-ahead hoop at Sacramento

Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: New Orleans trying to continue recent road success

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

CLEVELAND – While facing a 4.5-game deficit behind eighth-place Memphis in the Western Conference standings and with only 35 games remaining, New Orleans (18-29) has little margin for error in its pursuit of a playoff berth. As a result, the Pelicans will likely need to post numerous road victories in their final 18 away contests of 2019-20. The good news is that New Orleans has already shown an impressive ability to win on the road lately, including against very formidable hosts. Since Dec. 23, the Pelicans are 6-2 away from Louisiana, a stretch that includes triumphs in venues such as Portland, Denver and Memphis.

“It’s really difficult to win on the road in this league,” Pelicans fifth-year head coach Alvin Gentry said after shootaround this morning in Ohio. “You have to play at a really high level to do it, and we’ve done that. If we’re going to be a good team and we’re going to make any kind of run, we’re going to have to play well on the road and take care of business at home, obviously.”

Although New Orleans’ roster includes a total of eight first- and second-year NBA players, it also has four players with eight or more years of league experience under their belt. That’s helped the Pelicans come away with some critical victories in recent weeks, after they started the season 7-23 overall and appeared to have little chance of staying in the postseason hunt.

“It definitely helps a lot when you have people who can make plays and can play under pressure,” ninth-year NBA veteran E’Twaun Moore said. “Not getting rattled by the opposing crowd, that definitely helps.”


Other notes from shootaround at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse:

Zion Williamson will play his first regular season road game in Cleveland tonight. Asked if he had any words of advice for the No. 1 draft pick, Gentry alluded to Williamson’s ’18-19 campaign in the ACC with the Duke Blue Devils.

“He’s been in a lot of situations (already),” Gentry said. “If you’re a Duke guy and you play at Chapel Hill, it doesn’t get any tougher than that. He’s been in a lot of tough situations. The more he plays, the more relaxed he’s going to be, and the more of an uptick you’ll see in his game.” …

Gentry on Williamson’s minutes and usage Tuesday, as well as how it might change in the near future: “There will be a little bit of flexibility (compared to the previous three games), but we haven’t discussed that yet (in relation to Tuesday’s game). I hope that eventually these questions go away in the next couple games.” …

Williamson on how he feels physically after playing a game every other day since Wednesday: “The body is still adjusting, because I’ve been out for a few months, but everything else is fine.” …

Asked about the extreme attention he has received in other NBA arenas, particularly when he is going through a pregame workout well before tip-off, Williamson said, “It’s funny. Warmups are the funniest part. People are calling your name as you’re warming up. The coaches say, ‘Do they think you’re going to go over there right now?’ I usually stop (after) warmups to give a couple autographs.” …

Gentry on the impact of Williamson in terms of environment in other cities: “It creates an unbelievable atmosphere, wherever we go. It’s an energy that you would normally not see. We hope that it inspires us to continue to play hard and compete at a high level.”


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