1) Winners of eight of their last 11 games, the New Orleans Pelicans (15-26) have gradually decreased the gap between themselves and several teams in the Western Conference, moving to within a half game of No. 13 Sacramento (15-26, hosts Dallas at 9 p.m. Central). However, the Pelicans remain four games behind eighth-place Memphis (19-22), because the Grizzlies are on a tear, winning six straight and eight of their last 10. New Orleans has not faced Memphis head-to-head this season, but has two meetings with the Grizz this month, on Martin Luther King Day and Jan. 31, the latter in the Smoothie King Center.
2) Another Southwest Division team New Orleans is pursuing, San Antonio (17-21), has a 3.5-game lead on the Pelicans. There is a Spurs-Pelicans matchup in the Crescent City exactly a week from today, but then the division foes don’t meet again until March 18.
3) Perusing the power rankings from earlier this week, New Orleans moved up to No. 19 on NBA.com’s poll, with writer John Schuhmann noting Monday morning that “the Pelicans are getting closer to seriously contending for a playoff spot, having won six of their last eight. Six different Pelicans have averaged in double-figures over the eight games and real improvement has come on defense, where they’ve allowed just 103.8 points per 100 possessions (the league’s fourth-best mark) over that stretch.” The Athletic continues to have New Orleans ranked high, at 14th, while ESPN.com and CBSSports.com join NBA.com in a No. 19 status. SI.com places New Orleans 23rd.
4) The Pelicans will practice this morning at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center in Metairie. Check Pelicans.com later for coverage. Tickets for Thursday’s home game vs. Utah are available here.
5) Take a final look back at Monday’s 117-110 road win in Detroit with analysis from NBA TV’s GameTime crew.