Saturday, September 24, 2022
Sports Gaming Monitor

Preview: Chicago Bulls (42-30) at New Orleans Pelicans (30-42)

The New Orleans Pelicans are trying to hang on to a play-in spot.

The Chicago Bulls are trying to avoid slipping down to a play-in spot.

Both teams will try to strengthen their positions when they meet Thursday night in New Orleans.

The Bulls, who once sat atop the Eastern Conference, have slid to fifth, one game ahead of Cleveland and two games in front of seventh-place Toronto.

They have lost four of their last five after a 126-98 blowout at Milwaukee on Tuesday night in which they trailed by as many as 35 points.

“At some point we’ve got to get tired of getting our butt kicked like this and flip that switch of understanding that enough is enough,” said DeMar DeRozan, who had 21 points.

Chicago created a little breathing room with the Raptors when it beat them 113-99 on Monday. The Bulls, however, lost their last three games before that by an average of 17 points.

“It’s frustrating because I think we know how good we can be when we play at our best, play at a high level,” guard Alex Caruso said.

The Bulls are 0-16 against the top three teams from each conference.

“Sometimes it takes somebody to get hit in the mouth and get knocked down to get upset, kind of fight back and come out swinging,” DeRozan said. “(But) you’ve got to have that mentality before you get hit.”

The Bulls, who beat the Pelicans 128-112 on Oct. 22 in Chicago, have lost seven of their last eight road games. They are 16-20 on the road this season as they play the second game of a five-game road trip.

New Orleans, which sits in 10th place in the West, is beginning a stretch of three home games in four days. Leading scorer Brandon Ingram, who has missed the last eight games because of a strained hamstring, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and might return Thursday.

Forward Larry Nance Jr., who has arthroscopic knee surgery shortly after being acquired in a trade with Portland last month, likely will make his New Orleans debut against the Bulls.

Forward Zion Williamson, who has not played this season because of foot surgery, was cleared to begin one-on-one work Wednesday. Coach Willie Green said it’s still too early to tell whether he’ll be able to play this season.

The Pelicans won at San Antonio and Atlanta before finishing their three-game road trip with a 106-103 loss at Charlotte on Monday. They held an eight-point lead with eight minutes left, but didn’t score for nearly six minutes.

“It was a really good trip and close to being great,” Green said.

New Orleans has 10 games left to try and hold off the Spurs and the Trail Blazers and reach the play-in round.

“(This experience) is extremely important,” Green said. “We’ve got some good teams coming in so it’s extremely important for us to take every game seriously, every possession, every opportunity because that’s what it is — an opportunity for us to control our own destiny.”

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