Tuesday's game is significant. Anthony Davis knows why.
The New Orleans Pelicans superstar forward has mentioned it before. It's not a motto or a saying. To Davis, a losing streak here or another losing streak there is capable of making the Pelicans a true contender or setting New Orleans (eventually) out of the Western Conference's congested postseason race.
"We know, at any point in time, if you lose two in a row, maybe even three, you can go from sixth to 12th," Davis said Dec. 13, shortly after the Pelicans’ bounce-back win against the Milwaukee Bucks days after a high-scoring loss to the West's best Houston Rockets.
"We try not to lose two in a row."
New Orleans hasn't lost consecutive games since a three-game losing streak from Nov. 25-Dec. 1. Since the new month began, New Orleans has alternated wins and losses and a streak hasn't spawned heading in either direction.
The Pelicans left Louisiana Monday to begin a three-game, week-long road trip with a 6 p.m. tipoff Tuesday at the Washington Wizards and will conclude the trip, which will end Saturday, with a weekend back-to-back at Orlando and Miami.
It's an Eastern Conference swing of games able to revive the Pelicans from another preventable loss at Denver. While maintaining the final shot in regulation, New Orleans whiffed on capturing a win against the Nuggets on Friday and now rely on Tuesday for rejuvenation.
Tuesday's another chance for the Pelicans not to lose two in a row.
And it's important.
"For sure," Davis said. "It's a tough Washington team. They've got a lot of weapons. We're going to be on the road. We're going to try to bounce back. Try to get all three of these guys on the road. It's definitely important for us not to lose two in a row."
Nearing two full months of trial and error, New Orleans' offense is flourishing as the Pelicans hoped for prior to the first full-length season of the DeMarcus Cousins-Anthony Davis twosome — and it's not because of the big bruisers inside, like you'd think.
In each of their past 11 games, the Pelicans have connected on at least 10 3-pointers, the longest streak like it in franchise history.
With the threat of Cousins' long-ball, red-hot complementary perimeter shooting from E'Twaun Moore and Darius Miller and, as always, Davis and Jrue Holiday slashing through the heart of opposing defenses, New Orleans' offense ranks second in the NBA in points per game this month at 117.6.
"I think our guys understand what we're trying to get done now," coach Alvin Gentry said. "Even with the high turnover rate that we have, our assists have really been up."
During the 11-game run from beyond the arc, New Orleans set franchise records for 3s in a half (14) and in a game (18) Dec. 11 at Houston. The Pelicans are averaging a remarkably high 27.8 assists per game and 15.9 turnovers in the 11 games.
On the other end of the floor, largely because of the turnover issue, the Pelicans rank second-to-last by allowing 111.7 points per game this season.
"The pace is fast, you get a lot of shots up and a lot of opportunities to score," Holiday said. "That being said, you have a lot of opportunities to play defense, too. Obviously, got to come down here and do it on both ends."