New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry fielded the same question many, many times before the week began. He heard it enough.
In some form, reporters asked Gentry about the Pelicans schedule this week, a seven-day stretch sure to answer questions surrounding a talented Pelicans roster with abundant potential.
Monday, the Pelicans defeated the star-studded Oklahoma City Thunder by seven points. Wednesday, New Orleans clobbered the dynastic San Antonio Spurs 107-90, showcasing the Pelicans firepower is capable of competing in a loaded Western Conference.
New Orleans is the West's seventh team to reach 10 wins at 10-8. It will travel to Phoenix and Golden State to finish the week on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“Everyone wants to talk about the tough stretch,” Gentry said Sunday. “They’re all tough stretches. When you’re playing on the road or at home, and you’re playing against good teams — or any team in the NBA — they’re capable of beating you on any night.”
This week, the Pelicans have been that team — somewhat dominating two of the West’s perennial postseason contenders at the beginning of this November week.
By now, the Pelicans are used to the way Wednesday’s game began.
The Pelicans started sluggishly, trailing by as many as 15 in the first quarter to the Spurs, one of the West’s most successful franchises this century. Wednesday appeared glum and a ninth Pelicans loss was brewing. Then, once again fight-back mode, New Orleans rallied.
"In the beginning, we were starting games off great and struggling in the second half," said forward DeMarcus Cousins. "And now, we're struggling at the beginning of games and finish at the end of games strong."
The Pelicans held the pass-happy Spurs to 13 points in the second quarter and only 17 in the third, ending any threat their injury-ravaged Southwest Division rival offered.
"Always in the second quarter we seem to get our feet under us," Gentry said. "I thought our defense was great in the second and third quarters."
The Spurs (11-7) were without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker as they have been for much of this season, and ran their offense through their bigs, LaMarcus Aldridge and journeyman Pau Gasol — which worked for a while.
Then came the Pelicans' All-Star power duo of Anthony Davis and Cousins, firing at will without a 37-year-old Gasol or Aldridge, a 12-year star, standing in the way.
Davis composed a gem, compiling 29 points with 11 rebounds in 35 minutes before spending much of the fourth quarter resting while New Orleans led by as many as 30 down the stretch of Wednesday's game.
Davis’ 29-point night set the four-time All-Star at 7,938 career points, surpassing Chris Paul’s 7,936 points for No. 2 on New Orleans' all-time scoring list.
"It's great and is definitely humbling," the 24-year-old said. "The fact that I did it off a win, against a great team, makes it even better.
"But, I'm not trying to stop there. Not just to be No. 2 in New Orleans scoring history, but I want to bring championships here and do way more. For me, this is just one of the many accomplishments that I'm looking forward to getting."
Cousins wasn’t far behind. The 6-foot-11 point-center posted 24 points and 15 rebounds, marking his 14th double double this season, the most in the NBA.