Thursday, March 30, 2023
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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans (29-28) at Oklahoma City Thunder (27-28)

Pelicans look to sort out road woes vs. Thunder

The New Orleans Pelicans looked like they were starting to figure things out.

That was before Friday’s 118-107 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers ended the Pelicans’ three-game winning streak that had immediately followed a 10-game losing skid.

New Orleans will try to bounce back from that loss Monday when it takes on the host Oklahoma City Thunder.

New Orleans is looking to snap a six-game road losing streak.

The Pelicans will have to do that without Zion Williamson, who hasn’t played since Jan. 2 with a right hamstring injury. Williamson was expected to return before the All-Star break but recently suffered a setback that will keep him out for several more weeks.

While Williamson won’t be with New Orleans, the Pelicans figure to have Josh Richardson available after he was acquired from the San Antonio Spurs at the trade deadline on Thursday.

Richardson is averaging 11.5 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 35.7 percent from beyond the arc this season.

The Pelicans are going for the season-series victory over the Thunder, as New Orleans won the first two meetings between the teams this season. The Western Conference foes will meet again on March 11. The Pelicans’ two previous victories were by a combined seven points.

Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 37.5 points per game against the Pelicans this season, including scoring a career-high 44 points in New Orleans’ 128-125 overtime victory on Dec. 23.

Gilgeous-Alexander is coming off his second 44-point effort in the Thunder’s 138-129 win at Portland on Friday.

All of Gilgeous-Alexander’s baskets in that game came in the paint, as he went 13-of-15 inside the arc. Only one of those shots came from outside the restricted area underneath the basket. He was also 18-of-19 at the free-throw line.

Dario Saric has yet to make his Thunder debut after being acquired in a deal with the Phoenix Suns that cost Oklahoma City Darius Bazley.

The 6-foot-10 Saric is shooting 35.9 percent from 3-point range in his career and 39.1 percent this season. He will be the oldest player on Oklahoma City’s roster.

The Thunder added Olivier Sarr on a two-way deal Sunday, two days after converting Eugene Omoruyi’s two-way deal to a regular NBA contract. Oklahoma City also waived Justin Jackson, who the Thunder had acquired from the Celtics the trade deadline.

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