The New Orleans Pelicans were soaring high at the start of January, just half a game behind the Denver Nuggets for first place in the Western Conference. But as the month came to a close, they found themselves 10 and a half games behind the same team, with their dreams of the top spot in the West fading fast.
Last night, the Pelicans succumbed further as they lost to the Dallas Mavericks 111-106.
The New Orleans Pelicans' 10-game losing streak has been a dramatic and heartbreaking story for fans of the Western Conference team. The once-promising season has been plagued by injuries, causing the team to slip down the rankings and raise questions about the future of the team.
Injury Troubles For Pelicans Is Derailing Their Season
The root cause behind the Pelicans' slide is no secret. Their best two players, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, just can't seem to stay healthy. This is their fourth season in New Orleans and they have only played 93 games together, with only 12 since Willie Green became the team's coach. The irony is that their only season of good health was the 2020-21 campaign, which was the eight-month stint when Stan Van Gundy was in charge.
Williamson tweaked his hamstring in a January 2nd game against the Philadelphia 76ers, just as he was in the midst of the best stretch of his professional career. He had proven himself to be a dominant interior scorer again post-foot injury and had even turned a corner on the defensive end, which was a weakness for him in his first two seasons.
"I felt like I had a few moments where I was like, 'I'm not just back, but I'm better,'" Williamson said after learning he had been named an All-Star starter.
One of the biggest problems the Pelicans have had in the recent period is that Williamson and Ingram have rarely been able to catch a rhythm simultaneously. Ingram finally returned to the lineup on January 25th after missing 29 games in a row with a left-toe contusion. He is still trying to adjust after the two-month layoff, averaging 19.3 points on 35.1% from the floor, and 17.6% from behind the arc with 6.3 assists and 4.3 turnovers in the four games he has played.
Past Losing Streaks
The Pelicans have had three losing streaks of nine games or more since Ingram and Williamson came aboard. In 2019, they lost a franchise-record 13 consecutive games in Alvin Gentry's final season as coach. Last season, which was Green's first, they dropped nine in a row amid their 3-16 start to the season.
New Orleans Pelicans Upcoming Matches
The Pelicans' have home games against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday and the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Either the streak will continue or they may have a change in fortunes.
It is no exaggeration to say that January was one of the worst months for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Fans of the team can only hope that the New Orleans Pelicans will be able to rise from the ashes of their 10-game losing streak and show the world why they were once considered one of the best teams in the Western Conference. The road ahead is long and difficult, but the spirit of the team and the support of their fans will carry them forward. With a talented roster and a bright future ahead, the New Orleans Pelicans are poised to make a comeback, and I'm sure the fans are eagerly waiting for the day when the team will return to the top of the Western Conference.