It’s been nearly 1,000 days since the New Orleans Pelicans held a winning record.
To be precise, it's been 929 days since the Pelicans clinched a playoff berth with a 45-37 mark at the end of the 2014-15 regular season — before quickly being swept by the Golden State Warriors.
New Orleans’ chance to put to rest yet another poor streak can end at 7 p.m. Monday against the hot-handed Orlando Magic at the Smoothie King Center.
The Pelicans (3-3) already snapped a 981-day streak in their impressive, eye-opening 123-101 victory Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It's the first time New Orleans held a .500 record (other than 0-0) since Feb. 20, 2015, when it was 27-27.
In their 22-point stunner against the three-time reigning Eastern Conference Champions, the Pelicans put the NBA on notice: When they’re on, they're a handful.
And their record could be representative of the firepower soon enough.
“We are just starting to understand what it takes to win games," said Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins after Saturday's win.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry has adjusted well since New Orleans acquired Cousins in February.
"Alvin has done a great job of figuring it out,” Lue said. “Last year midway through the season was tough, but now he's got it figured it out with those two big guys. They understand how to play off each other now and with (guards) Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun (Moore) playing like that, they are tough to beat."
Forward Anthony Davis returned to the Pelicans' starting lineup Saturday after missing nearly two games with a short-lived left knee injury, reconnecting New Orleans’ towering twosome to assemble its most harmonious offensive performance of the season.
Davis and Cousins, two of the NBA’s five players averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds this season, combined for 59 points and 26 rebounds against the Cavaliers. Cousins added 10 assists to record his first triple-double with New Orleans.
But what made the Pelicans offense click Saturday wasn't the towering All-Stars. It was the backcourt.
Holiday and Moore, a pair of 6-foot-4 guards who each scored 24 or more points, seemed to figure out the Pelicans' largest looming question: Could the backcourt play in sync with Davis and Cousins?
Holiday, Moore, Davis and Cousins all scored 20-plus points against Cleveland, marking the first time four Pelicans surpassed 20 since Feb. 25, 2016. Saturday was also the first time in franchise history three players scored 29 or more (Holiday, Davis, Cousins).
“You can pretty much count on AD and DeMarcus having their 50 points and 30 rebounds or so,” Gentry said. “When we play like that and get the play out of our backcourt, we’re pretty good.”
Cavs forward Kevin Love was routinely tasked with guarding Davis or Cousins.
“They were a tough team to defend,” Love said.
New Orleans’ 3-3 start, on the brink of a positive record for the first time in those 900-plus days, is already its most successful beginning since that playoff season of 2014-15. The Pelicans lost their first eight games last year and 11 of their first 12 in 2015-16.
Should they beat the Magic, which has scored at least 113 points in each of its first six games, New Orleans can avoid falling behind in the star-studded West for a third consecutive season.
Especially early on, stockpiling losses can be irrecoverable for a team starved for a postseason berth despite having two of the NBA's most dynamic players.
“It was really important to us,” Gentry said of starting well. “I’ll tell you why: Because in the West, it’s so hard to try and make up seven, eight games. There’s just so many good teams.”
With a win against the Magic, which won three consecutive games against the Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets and San Antonio Spurs before Sunday's loss at the Charlotte Hornets, the Pelicans could achieve a winning record, an accomplishment that only took nearly 1,000 days.
“It feels good,” Holiday said. “Obviously don’t want to jinx it, but it feels good.”