NEW YORK — The New Orleans Pelicans have lost seven of their past nine games. They’re in 14th place in the Western Conference.
Superstar Anthony Davis said the Pelicans’ slump isn’t sitting well with anyone in the organization.
“We’re a better team than our record shows. Everyone is frustrated. Players, coaches, front office. We’ve just got to do better,” Davis said after the Pelicans’ 126-121 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
Davis had 34 points and a career-high 26 rebounds against the Nets, but it wasn’t enough to offset New Orleans’ shoddy defense. The Pelicans (17-22) allowed Brooklyn to shoot 60 percent in the first half and put up 73 points — the Nets’ highest first-half total in 16 years.
“We wasn’t playing no defense,” Davis said. “The whole first half, they did whatever they wanted. They didn’t feel us on the defensive end. We wasn’t physical, wasn’t talking. They got a lot of layups, a lot of open 3s. They shot the ball extremely well in the first half due to our lazy defense.”
Anthony Davis says the Pelicans can’t feel sorry for themselves after falling to 17-22 on the season.
Davis added that the Pelicans are “one of the worst defensive teams in the league” when they fail to communicate, rebound and help one another, as was the case against the Nets in the first half, when Brooklyn (18-21) led by as many as 24 points.
Davis, though, credited New Orleans for improving its defense in the second half. The Pelicans held Brooklyn to 42 percent shooting after halftime.
The five-time All-Star also expressed confidence that the Pelicans have enough talent turn things around once they get healthy. Elfrid Payton recently returned to the lineup after missing nearly 30 games because ankle and hand injuries. Nikola Mirotic has missed 10 games because of an ankle injury.
“We know what we did last year. We know how good of a team we are this year,” Davis said of the Pelicans, who upset the Portland Trail Blazers in a first-round sweep in the 2018 playoffs. “We just got [Payton] back, and then we have Niko out; we can’t stay healthy. We still have to go out there and prove it. We just can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”
Looming over the Pelicans this season, of course, is Davis’ future.
The 25-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020, but he is eligible for a special five-year, $239 million supermax extension this summer from the Pelicans, if they choose to offer it.
If Davis were to turn down that supermax deal in July, it would be a devastating blow to the Pelicans, who would have almost no choice but to open trade talks, though coach Alvin Gentry said late last month that “we’re not trading him under any circumstance.”
Davis was asked whether there might be a point in which he would decide that he didn’t want to play for a team that is 14th in the Western Conference standings.
Davis cut off the question abruptly, saying he doesn’t anticipate a point when he’d think about that.
“I don’t. Next question,” he said.