In honor of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, we present the five stages of Good Grief! The 0-5 Pelicans’ edition:
1. GOLDEN STATE 111, PELICANS 94. DENIAL: Hey, the Warriors were getting their rings. What did you expect? The ’92 Dream Team wouldn’t have had a chance. Plus the Pels had only nine players in uniform. Nothing to worry about.
2. PORTLAND 112, PELICANS 94. ANGER: Weren’t the Blazers supposed to be the worst team in the West? How can you fall behind by 30 points in the second quarter? Hope Anthony Davis enjoyed showing off his 3-point chops by going 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter — way after it ceased to matter.
3. GOLDEN STATE 134, PELICANS 120. BARGAINING: Yeah, it was a loss, but we got to see Steph Curry put on a show. Those 53 points were a thing of beauty — something you’ll tell your grandkids about. Give us something like that every night, and we’ll wait for guys to get healthy.
4. ORLANDO 103, PELICANS 94. DEPRESSION: Man, the Magic? They were 25-57 last year. They were 0-3 for this season. The Pelicans looked about as organized as Elfrid Payton’s hair. Hard to find a bright side to a game when you shoot 36 percent and get outrebounded by 11.
5. ATLANTA 121 PELICANS 115. ACCEPTANCE: Don’t know what the historical odds for a team that starts 0-5 making the playoffs, but they’ve got to be about on the level of Bobby Jindal being elected president. And unless the Pelicans trade away their first-round draft pick for the fourth straight year, they might have a shot at that Simmons kid from LSU.
To be sure, the Pelicans gave their best effort of the season Friday, coming from double-digits down to twice tie it and even bringing a half-filled Smoothie King Center to life before the deeper Hawks took over for the final three minutes.
Anthony Davis’ matching his career high with 43 points, 17 in the fourth quarter, showed he’s not packing it in already.
Neither does anybody else, for that matter.
But the cold, hard facts are that when three of your frontline players have yet to see action this season and the rest of your roster is giving the ER at University Medical Center plenty of business, you’re in for a long, long season.
With the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory over Brooklyn on Friday, the Pels are the only winless team in the Western Conference.
And with the second-half of a back-to-back looming Saturday in Dallas, it doesn’t like that distinction will end right away.
Last season’s brief encounter with the playoffs certainly felt good, and the preseason buzz about AD had everybody projecting the Pels as a team on the rise.
But the pile of injuries has created a quick buzz-kill.
It’s still a little early to completely throw in the towel. You don’t start tanking with 77 games left.
But in reality, this was a year when the Pels, because of salary cap restrictions and the trading of those draft picks, were basically hoping to exceed last season’s 45-game victory total with the same cast from last season.
Then, the idea was evaluating how much of that core you go forward with, excluding AD of course, while waiting for cap relief the appeal of contending for a title with Davis attracting impact free agents in 2016.
Now, you could start seeing trades that begin breaking up that core by December.
At least on Friday there was improvement by a team which lost its first four games by an average of 14.2 points.
“I thought we competed,” first-year coach Alvin Gentry said. “We did a lot of good things.
“But just couldn’t quite close the game. We’ve got to keep plugging away until we get over the hump.”
At this stage, there’s not much else the Pels can do.
Except wait until next year.
We could be wrong, though. We had the Saints dead and buried, and look at how that’s working out.