Somebody is about to find out how bad things really are, as a clash of struggling teams is set to take place Sunday between the New Orleans Pelicans and host Sacramento Kings.
The Pelicans are on a five-game losing streak and are 0-2 to start a demanding six-game road trip that was supposed to beseven games before their contest at Dallas on Monday was postponed.
Meanwhile, the Kings have given up at least 122 points in each of their last seven games, although they managed to win two of those with an onslaught of offense themselves. The games they did not win were the four in that stretch where they gave up 125 or more, including 144 last week to the previously struggling Toronto Raptors.
The Pelicans are playing their third consecutive game in California after consecutive defeats at Los Angeles against the Clippers on Wednesday and the Lakers on Friday. Once 4-2 to open the season the Pelicans are 4-7 after their 112-95 loss to the Lakers.
New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram scored 20 points against his former team, including 17 in the first half. Second-year forward Zion Williamson added 21 points and 12 rebounds after he sat out the game against the Clippers because of health and safety protocols.
The Pelicans led 58-57 at the half Friday by shooting 60.9 percent from the field, but managed to shoot just 35.6 percent in the second half as the game slipped away.
"I was encouraged by the first half today because we were really, really good on the offensive and defensive end against a really, really good team," Ingram said. "If we continue to bring that intensity and pressure every single night then we have no choice but to get sharper."
The Pelicans' Lonzo Ball, a Southern California native, did not play either game in his homecoming because of knee tendonitis, although Eric Bledsoe returned Friday after missing one game because of right eye irritation.
The Kings' frustration was obvious after their blowout 138-100 home loss to the Clippers on Friday.
"Nobody's going to come out here and do it for us," said Marvin Bagley III, who had a team-high 20 points. "We've got to figure it out and just lock up. I think it's as simple as that."
Said Richaun Holmes, who had 17 points: "You lose by 38 points, there better be some frustration in the locker room. It's well placed (frustration). We know we didn't give our best effort."
Over their last seven games, the Kings are giving up an average of 131.7 points per contest. They entered play Saturday last in the NBA with 123.2 points allowed per game. Opponents average 27.8 assists per game against Sacramento, second to last in the league.
The Kings have installed a new defensive approach under head coach Luke Walton, but the players seem to be getting worse at it, not better. Even in the confines of a single game against the Clippers, the Kings regressed on both sides of the floor, getting outscored 37-16 in the third quarter and 69-39 in the second half.
--Field Level Media