The New Orleans Pelicans are trying to hold on to a play-in spot in the Western Conference.
The Orlando Magic have some catching up to do if they’re going to grab a play-in spot in the Eastern Conference.
Both teams are struggling to reach the postseason as they prepare to meet Monday night in New Orleans.
The 10th-place Pelicans have lost both of their games since the All-Star break. After losing by five points at Toronto on Thursday, New Orleans went to New York and fell behind the Knicks by 20 points in the first quarter of a 128-106 loss on Saturday.
“The first order of business for us is we have to play harder,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “We have to play better and I’ve got to hold our guys more accountable, hold myself more accountable. That standard in which we played with tonight is not us.”
New York, which scored 42 first-quarter points, finished 13 of 26 on 3-pointers and New Orleans made 2 of 19.
“They kicked our butts,” Green said. “They made shots early. It demoralized us. We hung our heads. We moped. We pouted. They just ran the ball down the floor and made more shots.”
The Pelicans, who lost three of four on the road trip, are playing a home game for the first time in 17 days before leaving again for a three-game road trip. New Orleans is 20-10 at home.
“It starts with our sense of urgency,” Green said of a potential turnaround. “It starts with us playing hard. We haven’t been doing that lately or consistently.”
The Magic sit in 13th place in the East, four games out of the final play-in spot after a 121-108 home loss against 12th-place Indiana on Saturday.
“There’s always a sense of urgency when you have a chance to get a play-in spot,” forward Paolo Banchero said.
The Magic shot just 38.9 percent (35 of 90) from the floor and 20.7 percent (6 of 29) on 3-pointers. The Pacers took command by starting the third quarter with a 17-2 run that produced a 68-54 lead.
“I think something happened that we can’t let happen,” forward Franz Wagner said. “After a couple of shots being missed or us not getting what we wanted, we let it affect how we played on the other end. That’s when they made that run.”
Wagner led Orlando with 21 points, Banchero scored 19 and Markelle Fultz had 18.
Magic coach Jamahl Mosley agreed that the team allowed its offensive struggles to have a negative impact on its defense.
“That’s not really like us,” Mosley said. “First time that has happened in a while. We have to shake this one off because we have a road trip coming up.”
Orlando, which is 10-20 on the road, visits Milwaukee on Wednesday and Charlotte on Friday before returning home.
The Magic are looking to sweep the season series against the Pelicans. Wagner finished with 30 points and Orlando outscored visiting New Orleans 35-19 in the fourth quarter of a 123-110 victory on Jan. 20.
–Field Level Media