[via NBA]

The Pels Back to Back with the Lakers Headed Into Play-In Tournament

08:00 April 15, 2024
By: Kaitlin Lowe

Pels Lose to the Lakers

The New Orleans Pelicans' hot four game win streak was broken by the Lakers during the regular season finale in the Smoothie King Center, April 14, allowing the Pels to slip into the seventh seed position.

In the two most important games of the regular season, the Pelicans have dropped the ball when facing LeBron James and the L.A. Lakers. And believe it or not—they have the chance to do it again.

With this win, the Lakers have secured an eighth place seed headed into the play-in tournament, where they will now play the Pelicans again in New Orleans on Tuesday, April 16.

If the Pelicans, who were blown out in a 44 point loss by the Lakers during the In-Season Tournament semi-finals, lose once again to the Lakers this Tuesday, they will play the winner of the Sacramento Kings (ninth seed) v. the Golden State Warriors (10th seed).

We're now looking at two chances to secure a playoff spot for the Pelicans this week.

After this seasons' growth and success, this is a nightmare scenario for Pels fans to face once again—as this is the third year in a row in which the Pels will be apart of the play-in tournament.

When the season began, last year's play-in loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder was a hot topic. "It was tough watching the playoffs this year. I was in shock after that Thunder game; I never want to feel that way again," said Trey Murphy III, reflecting on the results of last year's play-ins.

That said, with a mainly healthy team for the majority of the season, escaping the play-ins looked very feasible for the majority of the year. The Pelicans stood at fifth place in the West, behind the L.A. Clippers, for a number of weeks. Fans were floored during the team's six-game homestand, where the Ingram-less Pelicans only won one game, tanking their record. With this losing streak, the Pelicans dropped from a comfortable fifth place spot to the seventh seed in the West whilst other teams picked up steam, such as the Dallas Mavericks, who snatched the fifth place spot in the Pelicans' place.

[via NBA]

The Pelicans could see clearly after this homestand that the rest of the season would be an uphill battle. With the last few games posing great postseason implications, the Pelicans pulled through during their last road trip, winning all four games. However, this hard work was erased due to a tough loss to LeBron James and the Lakers on April 14.

The Pelicans faulty performance was attributed to turnovers and lack of fight in the team overall. This loss resembled not only an embarrassing IST semifinals loss to the Lakers, but reminded fans of many hard losses taken by the Pelicans at home this season. This also reflects the inability for the Pels to hold more than a four game winning streak all season.

Despite having Ingram back on the court after a left knee contusion in March, the Pelicans slow start held them back from performing well throughout the game. While Ingram's offensive effort helped in the first, a disastrous second quarter with the Lakers building a 20 point lead that maintained for most of the game—from a 53-70 half-point score to a 124-108 final.

Both Coach Green and CJ McCollum related the loss to turnovers, "19 turnovers is too many, I'm sure they scored a lot of dunks and threes off those turnovers," said McCollum. The Lakers scored 27 points off those turnovers.

When asked as to why the team performs better on the road, as they rode off a hot streak of away games, he explained "I don't know what it is, maybe there's more emphasis on those games, but we're here now. We have to figure it out at home."

We've seen that a sense of urgency in tough games doesn't come easily for the Pelicans, therefore it's hard to predict what this play-in game will give us. Zion Williamson related the loss to a lack of aggressiveness from himself.

While the Pelicans had a lot of ammunition and will to come back during the third quarter, the point deficit was too large. With hopes of correcting these mistakes against this team, the Pelicans will give us their best shot Tuesday.

"The game here is going to be extremely hard, difficult, and physical. I've always known that when you get into a playoff series, and I am treating this like a two-game playoff series, the team has multiple days to sit on that film and sit with that taste in their mouth of defeat. They are going to be ready for us and we need to come in with the same sense of urgency that we had this previous game," said LeBron James on the Play-In game Tuesday.

If the Pelicans win on Tuesday, they will enter the first round of the playoffs against the third seed, the NBA's reigning champions the Denver Nuggets.

Sign Up!