The New Orleans Pelicans provided no answers.
On the court, they were thrashed 133-109 by the Utah Jazz in the Smoothie King Center on Monday night — but even in reflection, they couldn’t diagnose a specific issue that held them down.
Instead, as several players and coach Alvin Gentry broke down their fourth loss in the past five games, they credited the red-hot Jazz rather than pinpoint any obvious breakdowns that led to a 24-point defeat and Utah's highest output of the season.
“We were in the coverages our coaches told us to be in,” Anthony Davis said. “They shot the hell out of the ball.”
Jrue Holiday added: “They weren’t missing. At all. We tried to be aggressive defensively, but their system was just ran really well and they made the right plays out of it ... I don’t think it was a lack of effort.”
While the Jazz did shoot 58.4 percent from the field and convert 14 of 21 shots from 3-point range, many of those conversions were the result of open looks, allowing Utah to continually push the lead out without friction.
It’s been an issue since the Pelicans lost All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to an Achilles injury two weeks ago, prompting New Orleans’ swoon and dropping them from sixth to eighth place in the West, just a half-game ahead of the Clippers and three games in front of the surging Jazz.
Now the Pelicans will seek to bounce back, intending to fix their own game rather than being overly concerned with their opponents.
“It’s a little bit of both,” Davis said. “Utah beat some great teams ... they’ve been hot right now. But the other (losses) were a little bit of them and a little bit of us. So,we have to make sure that if they beat us, it’s because they’re shooting the ball extremely well or doing something we can’t control. But we can’t do it because of our own mistakes.”
It starts against the Indiana Pacers at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Smoothie King Center, which kicks off a run against Eastern Conference opponents, including a road swing to Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Detroit.
“We have 29 games left now,” Gentry said. “Most of those games are against teams we are chasing or just chasing us. That’s in the East and the West. Indiana is a playoff team and Philly is trying to be a playoff team. We have a lot of games against teams that are battling for something just like we are.
“My message to the team is, we have to play with desperation and we have to play unselfishly, and we have to do a good job of executing.”
Since Cousins’ injury, the Pelicans have failed to generate that kind of sustained energy, suffering through prolonged scoring droughts and inconsistency. Only Davis’ superhuman 43-point effort in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder staved off the team’s longest losing streak of the season.
And while newly acquired forward Nikola Mirotic is expected to fill some of the gaps left in Cousins’ absence, he’s still transitioning to a new team.
Mirotic scored just five points in 33 minutes against the Jazz and couldn’t find any space on the perimeter.
“It’s going to take a couple of more games and that’s all,” Mirotic said. “I’m already getting more comfortable how to play with them and sometimes it’s about the other team, because Utah played great. We are going to have those days like that.
“But I’m ready and I’m sure I’m going to get better. And so I’m just focusing on that right now.”