The Pelicans (43-31) will host the Portland Trail Blazers (45-28) on Tuesday night at the Smoothie King Center, and they will be doing it on two days’ rest, something that coach Alvin Gentry said he appreciates after negotiating the scheduling gauntlet of the previous week.
New Orleans imploded Saturday night while looking exhausted and losing 114-91 at Houston, but that likely was the result of fatigue and low energy. Both losses in the six-game stretch were to the surging Rockets.
The Pelicans are in a wild playoff mix in the Western Conference, where a victory or loss by several teams can shuffle the playoff positions for the third through eighth seeds. After New Orleans’ loss to Houston on Saturday, Gentry admitted that he was tired and so he realized how much his players needed to rest for the final eight games of the regular season.
The Pelicans have won four of the last five games against the Trail Blazers, including the last two — a 123-116 win on Dec. 2 at Portland and a 119-113 victory on Jan. 12 in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a realistic shot to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but much will rest on how they play against Portland, at Cleveland on Friday and back home against Oklahoma City on Easter Sunday.