(Field Level Media) The New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder have been rather generous of late and the results haven't been pretty.
The struggling teams aim to tighten up defensively on Friday when they open a home-and-home series in Oklahoma City. The Pelicans and Thunder will reconvene in New Orleans on Sunday.
Oklahoma City lost for the sixth time in eight games with Wednesday's 136-119 setback in Portland, a contest in which the Thunder fell behind 40-17 before finding themselves chasing the game the rest of the way.
"We have to be better and communicate better," guard Chris Paul said. "I think early in the game I was late in all my rotations. We have to be better and if we get better defensively, I think we'll start seeing different results."
Oklahoma City was unable to build off a 100-97 victory over Golden State, one that snapped the club's three-game losing skid. Portland's fast start from the perimeter put the Thunder on the defensive.
"We have to be better," Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said. "I don't know if it was sluggish, but we just didn't play well enough."
Abdel Nader might be the exception to that statement, as the 26-year-old scored a career-high 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting -- including a 3-of-4 performance from 3-point range -- while playing just 17 minutes off the bench.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is averaging a team-high 18.8 points, finished with just 11 on 4-of-10 shooting against the Trail Blazers.
"We play so many games in this league that you can't dwell on a bad game or a good game," the 21-year-old Gilgeous-Alexander said. "You always gotta put the game behind you and get ready for the next one."
The next one is a rematch with the Pelicans, against whom Gilgeous-Alexander collected 23 points and eight rebounds in the Thunder's 115-104 victory on Oct. 2.
New Orleans has answered winning three in a row by surrendering an average of 125.3 points during its three-game skid. The Pelicans also were generous to former franchise star Anthony Davis, who scored a season-high 41 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 114-110 victory on Wednesday.
New Orleans had a chance at the end, but Jrue Holiday's attempted inbounds pass to former Laker Brandon Ingram was intercepted by Davis in the waning moments to effectively end the game.
"I just didn't meet the basketball," the 22-year-old Ingram said. "I think I was a little lackadaisical getting open a little bit. He saw that I was open. I just didn't meet the basketball."
Ingram overcame a porous 4-of-21 shooting performance to finish with 23 points, marking the eighth straight game he has eclipsed the 20-point plateau. Prior to that, Ingram had a seven-point effort against the Thunder before exiting midway into the second quarter with an injury.
Despite the loss, Pelicans guard Kenrich Williams took a positive out of the contest.
"We learned that we can compete with anybody in the league, no matter if it is one of the teams in the league with the best record, or anybody," Williams said. "We can compete."
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