Kushner: Pelicans are still fighting but losses aren’t the worst thing for them

In the lower quadrant of the NBA’s standings, the race to the bottom has been churning for weeks.

For example, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder have turned losing into a commodity, going a combined 4-28 in April. What does that mean for the New Orleans Pelicans?

With less than a week remaining in the season, they’re a bit behind the curve in the pingpong ball derby.

An expanded 10-team postseason field allowed New Orleans to hang around the playoff race longer than it would’ve most years. In fact, the Pelicans entered Wednesday still mathematically alive for a play-in tournament despite a dismal 31-38 record, the ninth-worst mark in the league, and tied for 11th place in the West.

It’s a strange season with strange circumstances. And for the Pelicans’ sake, the decision about how to handle these final few games was mostly made for them.

Guard Lonzo Ball was ruled out (right thumb strain) before Wednesday’s tipoff against the Dallas Mavericks, leaving New Orleans with just a single starter (the unremovable Eric Bledsoe) entering the final trio of contests this year.

The New Orleans Pelicans will be without four of their usual starters in a must-win situation against the Dallas Mavericks.

Zion Williamson broke a finger. Brandon Ingram hurt his ankle. Steven Adams has struggled to push through a sprained toe for weeks. And Josh Hart’s thumb has sidelined the Pelicans’ best reserve for the past six weeks.…

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