Two teams in dire need of a major boost meet Friday night when the New Orleans Pelicans visit the Orlando Magic after losing the first two on their four-game road trip. The Pelicans are under .500 for the first time since Nov. 3 after losing two straight and eight of the last 12 contests while injury-plagued Orlando has dropped six in a row and 17 of 20 after a promising start to the season.
The Magic, who were without their top two scorers Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon due to injuries, were thumped 112-94 at Chicago on Wednesday while missing 22-of-29 shots from 3-point range. “We’ve just got to do more - do more without doing it in a selfish manner,” Orlando point guard Elfrid Payton told reporters. “Doing more doesn’t mean necessarily going out there and shooting 30 shots. It’s doing more on the defensive end, helping your teammate more.” New Orleans has given up 116.5 points per game over the first two contests on its trip and is 29th in the league in scoring defense (111.8). “The other team just came out and they wanted it more,” Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins told reporters after a 116-106 setback at Washington on Tuesday. “I feel like we just kind of went through the motions as a team. They just wanted it more, period. No effort.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, FSN Florida (Orlando)
ABOUT THE PELICANS (15-16): Anthony Davis survived a scare in the loss against Washington as he had his right wrist examined during the contest, but x-rays were deemed negative and he finished with 37 points to raise his average to 29.8 the last four games. Cousins tops the team in scoring (26.2) and rebounding (10.6) while dishing out 5.1 assists per game and has posted six double-doubles in the last eight contests. Point guard Jrue Holiday is averaging 25 points and shooting 53.4 percent from the field over the last five games.
ABOUT THE MAGIC (11-21): Fournier (ankle) is close to returning after missing the last six games and Gordon has missed four of the past five - the first two with concussion symptoms and the last two with the calf injury. Center Nikola Vucevic has had more responsibility in December and put up some big numbers, averaging 22.2 points and 12.8 rebounds over the last nine contests. Rookie forward Jonathan Isaac tweaked his ankle against Chicago in his second game back since missing 17 with the same injury, and is questionable.
1. Orlando F Jonathon Simmons went 2-of-9 from the field and scored six points against Chicago after averaging 21.6 the previous five games.
2. The Magic has won five of the last six meetings, including a 115-99 triumph on Oct. 30 in New Orleans.
3. Pelicans PG Rajon Rondo, averaging a team-high 7.6 assists, is questionable after leaving the last game with a knee injury.
PREDICTION: Pelicans 110, Magic 101