Scott Kushner: With No. 8 pick, Pelicans are playing with house money. Time to make it work.

When playing with house money, luck only rides for so long.

The New Orleans Pelicans’ entry in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery was the definition of house money. Their pick in the hopper wasn’t originally theirs — it was a gift, brought forth by the Los Angeles Lakers’ miserable season — and it was expected to be dealt last summer as part of a trade.

But an unlikely top-10 protection came to fruition. That allowed the Pelicans to keep the pick and get a chance at one of the top spots in next month’s draft. When the pingpong balls came up, however, the Pelicans were left with the No. 8 position.

Though it’s understandable to be disappointed that things didn’t parlay from a windfall to a mega-jackpot, there’s certainly no reason for dismay.

After a late-season run through the NBA’s play-in tournament and a thrilling, eye-opening six-game playoff series against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns, the Pelicans shouldn’t have been thinking about the lottery at all.

But thanks to the Lakers’ unexpected crater, from preseason championship favorite to the league’s eighth-worst record, there arose another opportunity to add value from the ballyhooed 2019 Anthony Davis trade.

Although the lottery was a letdown, sending the No. 8 pick to a playoff team is a pretty powerful consolation prize.

“Well, I think it’d be disingenuous for any of us to tell you we thought that ’22 Laker pick would be a lottery pick,” Pelicans executive…

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