Scott Kushner: Pelicans’ up-and-down weekend in Utah shows they at least have a leg to stand on

Two nights in Salt Lake City provided an illustration about the current state of the New Orleans Pelicans.

This team is unquestionably better. But there’s still an awful long way to go.

While there’s no shame in splitting a pair of road games on consecutive days against the Utah Jazz — last year’s Western Conference No. 1 seed and home of the NBA’s best home court advantage — it’s also not time to mark this as a pivot point in the Pelicans’ season.

It’s not so much the results as it is the dichotomous nature of the performances that reveals the path still left to travel for these Pelicans.

Unlike the first few weeks of the season though, there’s at least a foundation to build upon.

While the 5-17 record presents a grim reality, the situation doesn’t appear nearly as hopeless as it did this time last week. Back when the Pelicans were dominated by the Minnesota Timberwolves, they looked downright defeated in the process.

Since then, there have been some revelations. On the court, a starting rotation actually complemented each other in consecutive wins and displayed defensive pride not seen most of the past month.

Additionally, and more importantly, Zion Williamson was finally cleared for practice for the first time since his late-July foot surgery, opening up real possibilities he could play sometime in the next few weeks.

And that has the potential to shift the paradigm completely.

“We’re all excited,”…

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