Road-weary Wizards glad to host depleted Pelicans

The Washington Wizards are glad to be back home.

The New Orleans Pelicans aren’t going to be home for a while.

The Wizards just completed a four-game road trip as they prepare to host the Pelicans on Monday night. New Orleans began its longest road trip of the season with a 127-117 loss at Dallas on Saturday. The game in Washington is the second game of a five-game road trip.

New Orleans played without its top three scorers — Zion Williamson (hamstring), Brandon Ingram (toe) and CJ McCollum (rest), who average a combined 67.2 points per game.

In their absence the Pelicans started with their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season, falling behind 34-15. After that they outscored Dallas 102-93.

“I loved our competitiveness,” New Orleans head coach Willie Green said. “We brought a level of physicality to the game the last three quarters — played together, played hard, played till the end. No moral victories in the NBA, but extremely proud of our group. We will continue to build.”

McCollum likely will play against the Wizards. Ingram could return at some point during the trip and Williamson will be re-evaluated in a couple of weeks.

The absences gave other players expanded opportunities. One who took advantage was second-year forward Naji Marshall, who had a career-high for the second consecutive game and fourth time this season by scoring 24 points.

The Pelicans have lost their past three road games and six of their past seven away from home. They’ll conclude the season series against Washington on Jan. 28 in New Orleans.

Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. bemoaned his team’s lack of energy to start the last game of the road trip, a 127-110 loss at Oklahoma City on Friday night.

Like New Orleans did against Dallas, Washington dug itself a deep early hole, falling behind 35-17 at the end of the first quarter.

“Our approach to start the game put us in such a deficit,” Unseld said. “You never want to start the first half that way.

“In general, I don’t think we had the right mindset. We looked a little sluggish. You could argue (it was) a long trip, this, that and the other, but no excuse. We’ve got to do better to start with energy and our approach.”

Washington had 20 turnovers and trailed by as many as 27 points. It lost the last two games of the road trip after winning the first two. It has played 10 of its past 12 games on the road, going 4-6 in those games.

“It’s good to get home, get rested and refocused,” Unseld said. “That’s some comfort, but it still boils down to our approach to each game regardless of who we’re playing. We’ve got to come in with the right mindset whether it’s at home or on the road. Hopefully we’ll turn the page and get right.”

Against the Pelicans, the Wizards won’t have — and played the Thunder without — leading scorer Bradley Beal, whose hamstring strain will be re-evaluated in about another week.

–Field Level Media