Optimistic Pelicans ready to face Bulls

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The Chicago Bulls entered Monday in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

The New Orleans Pelicans are 14th in the Western Conference.

But the Pelicans are trending in a more positive direction as they prepare to host the Bulls on Wednesday night.

Even though New Orleans is coming off a 128-126 loss, it nearly broke visiting Utah’s five-game winning streak despite playing without second-leading scorer Jrue Holiday on Monday night.

New Orleans had won five of six games before that, Holiday’s left elbow contusion isn’t expected to sideline him for long and No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson is expected to make his regular-season debut soon after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 21.

“They did everything that I asked them to do,” coach Alvin Gentry said of the Pelicans’ performance in the loss to the Jazz. “They played hard and they stayed in the game. Even when we got down 11 points, they played hard, they executed, they grinded and clawed their way back and we deserved to win that game.”

Gentry was upset that a foul wasn’t called as Jazz center Rudy Gobert defended Brandon Ingram’s last-second layup that could have tied the score. There was contact between the two players, the shot missed and no foul was called as time ran out.

Ingram scored 35 points and Lonzo Ball had 21 for his fourth consecutive game with 20 or more points. He had never had back-to-back 20-point games in his three-year career before this streak.

“I felt like I got hit,” Ingram said, “but the referee (saw) it differently, so that’s the reality of it. It’s not discouraging at all. I think we’ll continue to put the pressure on them and eventually we will try to get some calls way down the line.”

The Bulls have lost four straight and five of six after falling 118-110 at Dallas on Monday. That dropped them to a season-worst 11 games under .500.

“You just have to keep playing,” said guard Zach LaVine, who scored 20 points.

“It eventually will come through, or at least you have to think that. Go out and play hard and I feel we are. We have another one soon and have to try to get on a roll. We’re in a losing streak now, so we have to try our best to crawl out of that hole and pick it up.”

Chicago shot just 29 percent (9 of 31) on 3-pointers and fell to 2-21 in games in which it shoots less than 39 percent on 3-pointers. But coach Jim Boylen wasn’t discouraged.

“I saw a lot of good things,” he said. “I like the way we ran. I think we had under 10 turnovers (nine). We forced 15. We won the boards (45-43) and a lot of good things.”

Forward Lauri Markkanen scored 26 points even though his playing status was in doubt until game time because of a sprained ankle.

But starting forward Wendell Carter Jr. left the court in a wheelchair after injuring his right ankle in the third quarter against the Mavericks. He won’t be available against New Orleans.

–Field Level Media

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