1) Happy New Year. New Orleans (11-23) enters 2020 playing its best basketball of the season and now is in the midst of a rare four-day break between games. Week 11 of the NBA schedule for the Pelicans consists of a West Coast back-to-back at the Lakers (Friday) and at Sacramento (Saturday). The team returns to the Crescent City in Week 12 for a pair of home games, followed by an East Coast road trip.
2) On Western Conference Wednesday, despite a 1-7 start and a 13-game losing streak in November/December, New Orleans is just four games behind eighth-place San Antonio (14-18). There are seven teams in the West comfortably over .500, including No. 7 Oklahoma City (18-15, 7.5 games ahead of New Orleans), but a pack of teams is within striking distance of eighth. Incidentally, the Pelicans have not faced the Spurs yet in 2019-20, but host them Jan. 22. There are three Pelicans-Spurs matchups over the final four weeks of the 82-game slate.
3) Perusing this week’s power rankings, New Orleans jumped from No. 26 to No. 20 in NBA.com’s rundown, due to a 4-0 week. As John Schuhmann noted, “The Pels’ offense has been more efficient with each ensuing game, and as they’ve shot 42 percent from 3-point range over the winning streak, (Lonzo) Ball has been their most prolific shooter from deep, hitting a career-high seven threes against the shorthanded Rockets on Sunday.” ESPN.com and CBSSports.com placed the Pelicans at No. 19, while The Athletic went with a No. 21 ranking. The Pelicans still need to do some convincing of SI.com, which still has New Orleans at 25th.
4) Watch Tuesday post-practice interviews with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Alvin Gentry.
5) See photos from the Pelicans participating in a New Year’s Eve celebration at the Louisiana Children’s Museum yesterday.