At 1-11, you’ll take momentum where you can find it.
And so while the Pelicans enter Friday’s game against San Antonio having lost five straight games and stuck on one win for the season, they found something to build on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.
Even in a 110-103 loss to the Thunder, the Pelicans — playing without seven rotation players — showed grit in dropping to 0-7 on the road.
“I think we took a step in that we’ve struggled like crazy in the second half of games,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “I thought we played a good second half against a very good team. With or without (Kevin) Durant, that’s a pretty good basketball team. Obviously, with him, they’re a great basketball team.”
The Pelicans haven’t even been pretty good this season. But they’ve been mostly awful in second halves. They entered Wednesday’s game allowing 29.9 points per third quarter and being outscored by an average of 8.1 points per second half.
But New Orleans outscored the Thunder 29-27 in the third quarter and 58-57 in the second half, despite playing without projected rotation players Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Omer Asik, Norris Cole, Quincy Pondexter and Kendrick Perkins.
“We rebounded the ball well,” forward Ryan Anderson said. “We had a toughness. What more can you ask for, especially when you have so many guys out?”
Anderson conceded that it “sucks to lose,” but that the Pelicans “gave everything we had.”
The question remains when they’ll have some more.
Cole (high ankle sprain) and Evans and Pondexter (knee surgeries) have yet to play a game this season and remain listed as out for Friday’s visit by the Spurs. Perkins, too, is out with a torn right pectoral muscle that’s expected to keep him out three months.
Davis — who injured his left shoulder in Tuesday’s home loss to Denver — and Asik, who has missed two straight games with a stomach illness, are listed as questionable. As of Wednesday, Davis still was having trouble adequately lifting his right arm.
Even with a full roster, the Pels would face a daunting task Friday. San Antonio (9-2) has won six straight games by an average of 13.8 points per game.
Last week, Gentry called this “a Job season,” one that’s tested the Pelicans’ patience.
“I don’t think the season is over by any stretch of the imagination, and we’ll continue to battle,” Gentry said this week. “It’s a long, long, long year, and somewhere along the line we’ll look back and look at this as a learning experience.”
Jimmer Fredette’s stay in New Orleans is over. Again.
The Pelicans waived the 6-foot-2 guard Thursday, nine days after receiving a hardship waiver to sign him in the wake of a series of injuries. Fredette played 13 minutes over four games and averaged 0.5 points per game.
Last season, Fredette played in 50 games with the Pelicans, averaging 3.6 points and 1.2 assists in 10.2 minutes per game and did not re-sign as a free agent.
The Pelicans roster now stands at 15 players.