SAN ANTONIO — Twenty-nine games have come and gone since the New Orleans Pelicans began the 2016-17 season, but they might as well be at square one after Sunday’s 113-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
“I just told them: I don’t know what kind of team we have, because we won’t allow ourselves the opportunity to figure that out,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.
Time, however, is running out.
“We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to figure it out in a hurry,” Gentry said. “It’s not anything we’ve got a month to figure out. We’ve got to figure it out in the next week or so. What are we gonna be? How are we gonna play? We’ve got to be consistent in what we’re doing. That’s the disappointing thing.”
The Pelicans, now 9-20 and four games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, entered Sunday’s game with a 4 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.
“A week, maybe two, two and a half until the defining moment of our season,” Anthony Davis said. “We’ve got to, within that span, try to figure it out. It’s possible. We’ve shown the way that we want to play. We’ve actually done things the way we want to do them. We’ve got to do it on a more consistent basis.”
Davis pointed to the Pelicans’ performance in a 113-109 loss against the Golden State Warriors and in the second half of an overtime win over the Phoenix Suns the game prior as glimpses of their ideal form.
“We know the type of team we want to be: a fast-paced team who defends, move the ball, scrappy,” he said.
The problem, according to Davis, is that it doesn’t show up as often as they need it to.
“We’re very inconsistent,” he said. “One game we play very well offensively, defensively we’re talking. Another game we just — we’re not. So we have to figure out what team we want to be identified as. We can’t keep going from game to game with a different identity. We’ve got to come out the same way.
“We don’t have that much time. We’re trying to catch up. We’ve got to do whatever we’re going to do as fast as possible.”
The Pelicans won their first four games after the return of Jrue Holiday on Nov. 18 but have gone just 3-10 since, with home wins against the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers and the overtime victory over the Suns.
“I think we just got to focus on what we need to do in the next two-and-a-half weeks, three weeks,” point guard Tim Frazier said. “We’ve got a game in Philly [Tuesday] that we need to win. We got to win that. From what I’ve seen in the NBA, some of the good teams can’t go on losing streaks. You can continue to go on winning streaks, but you can’t go on losing streaks. We lost today, so we’ve got to win tomorrow.”