Friday, April 12, 2024

NBA Preview: Washington Wizards (9-44) at New Orleans Pelicans (32-22)

The New Orleans Pelicans will play just their second home game in 19 days when they meet the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

The Pelicans weathered their annual Mardi Gras road stretch well, going 6-3 while playing eight of nine away from home. They finished the final four games of the stretch by going 3-1 on the road, including a 96-87 victory at Memphis on Monday.

New Orleans will head into the All-Star break after Wednesday’s game then return next week with three straight home games.

The Pelicans’ victory against the short-handed Grizzlies came two days after a 93-84 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers, who have the second-worst record in the Western Conference.

New Orleans led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter and held off a Grizzlies rally despite scoring just 10 points in a fourth quarter in which they allowed just 14. The Pelicans extended Memphis’ NBA-worst losing streak to nine games.

The Pelicans learned earlier Monday that guard Dyson Daniels, one of their top reserves, would miss an indefinite period because of a meniscus tear in his left knee. Even in his absence, New Orleans’ bench had a significant role in the victory. The reserves triggered a 21-8 closing second-quarter run that produced a 61-47 halftime lead.

The Pelicans now face the team with the second-worst record in the East. The Wizards’ 112-104 road loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night was their seventh consecutive.

Washington was in position to end its losing streak but was outscored 34-16 in the fourth quarter.

New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram scored what was then his season-high of 40 points and Trey Murphy III made six 3-pointers on his way to 27 points in the Pelicans’ 144-122 victory over the host Wizards on Dec. 13.

Kyle Kuzma scored 27 points to lead Washington, which led by 15 points early, but quickly lost control. Wizards rookie Bilal Coulibaly made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points.

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