Pelicans’ keys to success in future

New Orleans Pelicans’ center, Jahlil Okafor, drives to the basket and finishes for two of his 10 points on the night. Photo credit: Chris Taylor

Story by Phillip Petty III, sophomore at St. Augustine High School; photos by Chris Taylor, sophomore at East St. John the Baptist STEM Magnet High School; mentored by Rob Noelke.

Pelicans Cheick Diallo and Ian Clark help their teammate, Kendrick Willams, up off the hardwood after taking a tough charge. Photo credit: Chris Taylor

Friday night inside the Smoothie King Center, the stands roared with cheers for the Pelicans as they welcomed the (41-26) Portland Trail Blazers into town. The Pelicans, coming off of four straight losses looked to bounce back. Meanwhile the Portland Trail-Blazers were coming off of back to back wins against the Clippers and the Suns. The Pelicans were short handed without some of their key players such as Anthony Davis (rest), Jrue Holiday (lower abdominal strain) and E’twaun Moore (left thigh contusion). With those key players out, that meant other players needed to step up.

Three keys to the game:

Bench Play
In order to win we needed our bench players to help carry the load. In the previous six games the Pels have been outscored by their opponent in bench points. Friday night the Pels got outscored by 19 points on their bench.

Defense
Pelicans defense will need to improve. There defense has been rocky all season long. With two great defenders on their team in Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, the defense has still not been that great. Even though Davis and Holiday did not play Friday night their defense held up until the fourth quarter.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Julius Randle forces his way to the rim, adding to his career-high 45 total points. Photo credit: Chris Taylor

Finishing strong
The Pelicans are one of the worst 4th quarter teams in the NBA, ranking in the bottom half in the league. Friday night, just like other games they blew the game in the 4th quarter. They were up by 5 points going into the fourth quarter and couldn’t keep the lead to finish the game. In the fourth quarter they gave up 35 points.

The Pelicans will fall to 30-41 as the Blazers will rise to 42-26. The Pelicans will welcome the 16-54 Phoenix Suns into town on Saturday. The Pels hope to stay healthy through the rest of the season and look forward to next season as it is looking like they won’t make the playoffs. The Blazers will head to San Antonio and take on the Spurs.