Pacers, Pelicans trying to end funks amid injuries
The Indiana Pacers and the New Orleans Pelicans can each understand what the other is going through.
Both teams have had to deal with significant injuries as the Pacers conclude a four-game road trip by visiting the Pelicans on Monday night.
Things might be starting to look up for Indiana, but it doesn't look that way for New Orleans, which has lost two of three while playing without five of its top six scorers.
The Pacers, though, ended a four-game losing streak that began in the wake of All-Star guard Victor Oladipo's season-ending knee injury when they won at Miami 95-88 on Saturday night.
Bojan Bogdanovic had his most points as a Pacer, scoring 31, Darren Collison added 20 points and Myles Turner had 14, but it was Indiana's defense that made the difference.
"It was mental, I think," Bogdanovic said of the losing streak. "We needed this win to get it going. We have enough quality in this locker room without Victor to put up the numbers."
Oladipo's primary backup, Tyreke Evans, returned against the Heat after a three-game absence due to a sore back. Though he missed all seven of his shots and went scoreless in 16 minutes, Evans' return was a positive development for a team badly in need of one.
"It's all about adapting," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "It takes time and with different guys in and out of the lineup, it's not going to be a quick fix.
"(But) we're finding a rhythm with the group that we have."
A rhythm is what injury-riddled New Orleans is trying to find. It has lost five of six after a 113-108 loss at San Antonio on Saturday night.
Though the Pelicans dropped their second straight with their makeshift lineup, they made a remarkable comeback in the fourth quarter against the Spurs.
New Orleans trailed by 22 points, but scored 14 straight to give itself a chance with 2:27 remaining.
After San Antonio's Patty Mills made a 3-pointer, the Pelicans scored 10 points in a span of 1:22 to get within three. They had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Tim Frazier's 3-pointer missed.
Rookie Frank Jackson scored 25 points, Jrue Holiday (the only healthy starter) and Ian Clark added 15 each, Cheick Diallo had 13, rookie Kenrich Williams had 12 and Darius Miller 11.
"It's tough," Jackson told the Pelicans' team website. "We have guys injured. It forces us to kind of be more scrappy and play as hard as we can. I think we should have that mentality every single night."
It's unclear when New Orleans will get any players back. In fact, coach Alvin Gentry won't commit to playing star Anthony Davis, who has asked the team to trade him, when he gets healthy from a finger injury.
The other injured players include three other starters -- forward Julius Randle (ankle) and guards E'Twaun Moore (knee) and Elfrid Payton (ankle) -- as well as top reserve Nikola Mirotic (calf).
"I think guys have seized the opportunity that they have gotten to play," Gentry said. "When you're a young player like Frank and Kenrich and you get an opportunity to play you want to try and take advantage of those minutes that you get out there and I think that's what they've tried to do."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 3, 2019