The Pelicans have never done this.
Way back when, the Hornets did.
With a 125-116 win against the Phoenix Suns on Monday at the Smoothie King Center, the Pelicans powered to a sixth straight win, the franchise’s longest winning streak since 2011.
That year, Anthony Davis was 17, and the team in New Orleans was still called the Hornets. They won 10 in a row from Jan. 9-26, 2011.
The current streak dates to the Pelicans’ double overtime win at the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 10. You can point to Davis’ video-game-like numbers, as his new starting frontcourt partner, Emeka Okafor, called Davis' increasingly impressive stat lines.
Davis, whose career began in 2012, has compiled a career-best sequence of 44 points at Brooklyn, then 38 at Detroit two nights later. He scored 42 on Feb. 14 against the Lakers and 45 more against Miami on Feb. 23 after the All-Star break.
The superstar’s 27 at Milwaukee on Sunday by no means defined an underwhelming evening. But by Davis’ recent standard, it was nothing but a prelude to his monster performance Monday against the Suns: a season-high 53 points, his fourth game since the streak began with 40 or more, plus 18 rebounds.
All of that, too, without DeMarcus Cousins — the other half of New Orleans’ super-powered towers before his season ended with an Achilles injury Jan. 26.
How to salvage a potential playoff-bound season with one half of the NBA’s most attractive frontcourt unavailable consumed the Pelicans. An adjustment phase began immediately following the injury, and the Pelicans were forced to divert from the Brow-Boogie partnership to something else — whatever would work.
New Orleans dropped five of its first six games without Cousins. It hasn't lost since Feb. 9 at Philadelphia.
“Even with DeMarcus missing, we still have an opportunity to do what we set out to do,” coach Alvin Gentry said Friday, “and that’s obviously to be a playoff team. That’s the No. 1 goal that we’re trying to reach.”
Beginning Feb. 10, New Orleans has run through the Nets, Pistons, Lakers, Heat, Bucks and Suns — no opponents at the top of their division and four with losing records.
“We talked about playing hard,” continued Gentry, who also cited crisper offensive play preserving the streak. “Without DeMarcus, we’re trying to play a little bit faster. I think that’s known to everyone. ... I think our guys are kind of finding their way. I think it was the initial shock of him being out. … What we have now is the new normal.”
The Pelicans have had their fair share of preventable losses this season. Remember the 116-109 overtime loss to Sacramento on Dec. 8? What about back-to-back home losses to the Nets and Knicks on Dec. 29-30, the three-point defeat at Memphis on Jan. 10 or the one-point loss at Atlanta on Jan. 17?
Subduing four lowly teams in free fall, each angling for a more promising position in the NBA draft, could reasonably render those stinging, aforementioned losses inconsequential for the time being.
No matter how the six-game streak is perceived — whether to consider it a sign the adjustment period to losing Cousins is officially complete or redemption for the earlier puzzling losses — the team’s heart is still beating.
"Everybody's doing this together; that's what makes this so special," Davis said. "Everybody's doing it without one of our main guys, so it makes it more special, especially when everybody thought we were going to go down in the standings, (and) we're actually moving up."
This streak, which vaulted New Orleans to a fifth-place tie in the Western Conference, doesn’t guarantee the club's first postseason trip since 2014-15. The West's jammed postseason race has not become unclogged.
But these six wins, each without Cousins, have created palpable confidence at the most stressful point of the season.
"We adjusted," Holiday said. "Again, everybody's just sitting on Anthony's shoulder waiting for him to score 50 a night."