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Feb 24, 2024 7:33 pm

Can Pelicans rekindle hot streak against Bulls?

Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans will try to rekindle their hot streak when they host the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.

They cooled off Friday night, losing to the visiting Miami Heat 106-95. That loss ended a four-game winning streak and was just their second loss in 10 games.

They scored just 15 points in the fourth quarter and shot a mere 21.9 percent on 3-pointers (7 of 32).

“We got down big and fought our way back into it, and I love that we are an unselfish group,” coach Willie Green said, “but we just didn’t score enough points.”

Miami went on an 18-6 run during the first quarter that left New Orleans playing catch-up for much of the game. The biggest run was a stretch of 11 consecutive Heat points in the fourth quarter that turned a two-point Pelicans lead into a nine-point deficit with less than three minutes remaining. New Orleans went scoreless for more than six minutes.

The decisive run came shortly after a series of altercations that led to the ejections of the Pelicans’ Naji Marshall and Jose Alvarado and the Heat’s Jimmy Butler and Thomas Bryant.

“That’s a part of basketball,” guard Herbert Jones said. “If you play basketball — one guy’s best against another guy’s best, there’s going to be some tension if everybody’s playing hard.”

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans’ second-leading scorer, has missed the last two games because of a non-COVID illness, and third-leading scorer CJ McCollum missed the second half against the Heat because of an ankle injury sustained in the first half.

Their status for Sunday is uncertain.

Injuries are a problem for Chicago as well.

The Bulls have lost third-leading scorer Zach LaVine for the rest of the season because of a foot injury.

They have had to make adjustments in the frontcourt with forward Patrick Williams out for the rest of the season and forward Torrey Craig out indefinitely.

Coach Billy Donovan played centers Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond, the team’s No. 1 and No. 2 rebounders, respectively, at the same time for stretches of a 129-112 home loss to Boston on Thursday, Chicago’s third loss in four games.

“I think with some of the things we’ve dealt with injury-wise, it’s something that we’re going to have to look at it,” Donovan said of continuing to play the two big men together.

Boston had success slowing down guard Coby White, who has had a break-out season, emerging as Chicago’s No. 2 scorer. White scored 20 points, but shot just 6 for 17 from the floor.

“Because of the year Coby’s had and how well he’s played, teams are game-planning to do different things against him,” Donovan said. “I think the more he can see those kinds of defenses, he’ll adjust to it and he’ll be better from it.”

In a 124-118 home victory against New Orleans on Dec. 2, White scored 31 points in 40 minutes, making 10 of 17 field-goal attempts, including a season-high 8 3-pointers in 13 attempts. He also had nine rebounds and six assists.

–Field Level Media

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