Last time I wrote a game preview was on Saturday, when I expressed my concern that the Wizards would lose third game in a row.
Now, here I am, worried Washington is about to drop number four.
Since opening their five-game road swing with a win at Houston, Washington has dropped games to Dallas, Oklahoma City and San Antonio - allowing an average 108.0 points per game on 53.5 percent shooting.
The Wizards are also averaging 93.7 points per game during its losing streak - a far cry from its 102.4 per game in their previous 16 games.
So while Washington is trying to get back on track and end the road swing on a high note, New Orleans is looking to move two games above .500 for the first time since Nov. 22, when they were 7-5.
When and where? Game starts at 8 p.m. (EST) from the Smoothie King Center (yum) in New Orleans. Catch it on NBATV (woo) or CSN Washington.
Who's out? The Wizards' Martell Webster (knee) and the Pelicans' Eric Gordon (shoulder) are both questionable.
Are they good? They have Anthony Davis, so I can't really say no - and don't let their 17-16 record fool you. The Pelicans are 11-4 at home, score/rebound/assist consistently and have knocked off some of the league's better teams, like San Antonio, Oklahoma City Houston and Cleveland. But they've struggled to get into a winning mode and have never won more than two consecutive games. The Pelicans lost 83-80 to the Wizards on Nov. 29 and have not won against them in their past six tries.
Panic mode for Washington? I give this a soft 'yes.' The Wizards were 13-3 in their past 16 games and looked simply, great. Now, they have struggled to finish games against some of the Western Conference's best during their longest road trip of the season and appear to be counting down the minutes until their return to the Verizon Center.
At the end of each first half in the past three games, the Wizards have been right where they need to be to get a W. Then, they come out of the locker room and it's a different story: In the second halves of the past three losses, Washington has been outscored 121-147 by the opponent - especially in the fourth quarter.
But, as is important to note, Washington is still 22-11 and remains a contender in the Eastern Conference. There's a lot to be happy about with this team, but ending this road swing with a W would mean a lot with games at home against the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls looming this week.
Wildcat vs. Wildcat? John Wall and Anthony Davis may play different positions for their respective teams, but they have quite a lot in common. Wall (2010) and Davis (2012) were both the first pick in the NBA draft. They both also spent one year at the University of Kentucky, getting groomed by the one and only John Calipari. In the last meeting between the two, Wall was held to 11 points, seven assists compared to Davis' 30 points and 13 rebounds. Matchup number two will be just as thrilling.
Any other cool match ups? Bradley Beal has been hot for the Wizards, despite their recent struggles. In his last five games, Beal is averaging 17.6 points and shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc. His matchup with Pelicans' shooting guard Tyreke Evans, who is averaging 21.5 points, 4.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds in his past four games, will be one to watch. In the Nov. 29 game, Beal had 12 points on 5-11 shooting and Evans had four points on 2-15 shooting.
Also as important is the matchup between international big men Marcin Gortat (Poland) and Omar Asik (Turkey). In the last matchup, Gortat won the duel, leading the Wizards with 24 points and 13 rebounds and holding Asik to one point on 0/4 shooting and just nine total rebounds.
Who wins? WELL, I thought the Wiz had it in them to pull out a close but necessary victory Saturday in San Antonio - and I was wrong. But, losses are what makes a team better and pushes them to deal with diversity. The first third of the season was easy for Washington and now they've been dragged back down to earth. This is a time for Paul Pierce and the other veterans, to step up and push the younger backbones of the team to lead. This matchup favors Washington and as long as they clamp down on defense in both the first AND second halves and DO NOT push themselves into unnecessary shots, they should leave the Big Easy with a W.