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Nets continue road trip in New Orleans vs. Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Keep bouncing. The Brooklyn Nets took on the Orlando Magic Wednesday night hoping to get back in the win column after a tough loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. They took care of business and then some with an impressive 33 point victory. Two more to go before they head home to the clays.

Joining the party on Friday night will be the New Orleans Pelicans. It’s been a disastrous season for first year head coach Willie Green, but the hope is things turn around sooner rather than later. They played the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday and lost by eight points. The L was their eighth in a row. More on their woes in a bit.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip off after 8 p.m..

Injuries

Nicolas Claxton is ramping up, but will be out. Kyrie Irving made an appearance at a Seton Hall game the same night his teammates played the Magic. No indication that he’s changed his opposition to being vaccinated.

Zion Williamson is out recovering from his foot fracture. Brandon Ingram was listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game, but was out again due to a right hip contusion. He’s listed as questionable again, but it appears he’s unlikely to make his return tonight. Daulton Hommes is out due to a right fibular stress fracture.

The game

It feels like every year, I say to myself "This is the year the Pelicans put it all together!" And every year, the Pelicans get a ton of national TV games since the league wants to showcase and build on stars like Williamson and Ingram. Unfortunately, when you're on national TV a ton and are a bad team, your flaws and issues will be under a greater microscope. To wit, David Griffin is under pressure after a story from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report came out on Thursday. It's a damning story and this part in particular stood out:

Gentry responded with his own choice words, noting how his eventual replacement, Stan Van Gundy, who was also fired after one season in New Orleans, finished just one game better (31-41) than the Pelicans did under Gentry (30-42) the year he was let go. “You must not have given Stan the answers to the test, either,” Gentry shouted at Griffin, according to multiple sources, and the two men had to be separated.

Yeah, man. It looks like time is running out for Griff.

We’ll be seeing an old friend of ours tonight. Garrett Temple was on the Nets during the 2019-2020 and was a solid locker room presence for Brooklyn. On this team, he’s a vet that will hopefully impart wisdom and knowledge on a young team trying to figure things out.

Aye man...

What more can he say? Kevin Durant can do everything imaginable on the basketball court and it’s a pleasure watching him ply his craft on a nightly basis. He makes it happen every time he’s on the court and defenders just have to hope KD is turnover happy because everything else isn’t working. He only played 29 minutes and got the fourth quarter off so he’ll be refreshed and ready to roll tonight.

The Nets will look to contend on the inside with Jonas Valanciunas. JV came to New Orleans after two and a half seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies and has been handling things so far here. He’s second in the NBA in rebounds at 14 a night and is averaging a career high 20 points a night. Valanciunas does most of his damage on the inside, but he can step out and hit a three every so often.

Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge will look to hold things down on the interior. LMA had one of his best games of the season and was automatic from the midrange area. He’s shooting 72.9 percent from that area on the season and he has been a godsend off the Brooklyn bench. Steve Nash has made a point to manage LMA’s minutes, so he’ll make sure to keep the rotation intact to preserve the big guy.

New Orleans has been one of the worst defensive clubs in the league, and a lot of that is due to their porous three point d. The Pelicans allow teams to shoot 37.7 percent from deep, fourth worst in the league. To add on to their struggles, teams are shooting a league high 70 percent in the restricted area against them as well. If you allow teams to cash in from deep and get busy in the paint, you’re in deep trouble.

Player to watch: Devonte’ Graham

After three years with the Charlotte Hornets, Graham came over in the summer to replace Lonzo Ball as the Pels’ starting point guard. The plan was for him to be the third option, but you see the injury report and yeah. He can break defenders down off the dribble and leads the team in assists. They’re gonna need a huge game out of him tonight if they hope to snap the losing streak.

Ignoring the triple double for a second, it was very important to see James Harden driving to the basket a bunch on Wednesday. The Nets need to generate more downhill pressure and if Harden is back to what we know he can do, then the Nets will be able to get their offense back into the elites of the NBA. He made a bunch of wonderful pocket passes to Bruce Brown and is getting more comfortable with Aldridge as his P&R partner, so as he keeps with the rhythm, Brooklyn will be near the top of the league.

From the Vault

It’s Steve Somers here and you there as tonight is his last night as a full time WFAN host. Let’s take a trip back to the Spring of 1994. Also, shouts to the guy doing the 20/20 updates. He’s going places!

More reading: The Bird Writes