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Wizards vs. Pelicans preview: Washington aims for fourth straight win

NBA: Washington Wizards at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

When: Sunday, January 29 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Where: Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic and NBA TV
Radio: 1500 Federal Radio and Wizards Radio App

Injury Report

Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Out, Knee), Danuel House (Out, Wrist)
Pelicans: Quincy Pondexter (Out, Knee)

What to watch for

Can the Wizards avoid the letdown game?

The Wizards went into last week knowing they could make up big ground in the Eastern Conference standings with games against the Hornets, Celtics, and Hawks. They passed those three big tests with flying colors. Now, they face a little bit of a different challenge with the Pelicans. New Orleans is an out-of-conference foe and they’re struggling to stay in the playoff picture out there.

On paper, this seems like a game the Wizards should win comfortably, but it’s going to be a test of the team’s mental resolve. Not only is this game less meaningful in terms of helping their playoff positioning, but it comes at the end of stretch where the Wizards have played 5 of 6 games on the road. This has a lot of the classic ingredients for a trap game. We should be able to see fairly quickly if they’ve been seduced.

The Wizards aren’t the only hot team in this game

New Orleans is still on the outside of the playoff picture at the moment, but they’re starting to piece things together after a very slow start, winning 5 of their last 9 including wins over the Cavaliers and Spurs this week.

The big difference has been Jrue Holiday returning to form after missing the start of the season. He’s still very good on both ends when he’s healthy and he opens up so much for the rest of the roster. Terrence Jones has also been a revelation lately. He’s scored in double digits in 7 of the last 9 games, including 36 against the Cavs and 21 against the Spurs.

Most Likely Wizards Killer: Solomon Hill

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Hill got off to a rough start this season after signing a four-year deal with the Pelicans this summer, but he’s finally starting to find his rhythm. He had 14 points and 8 rebounds in a tight loss on Wednesday against the Thunder and then followed it up with 9 & 6 in a win over the Spurs on Friday. The big key to his recent uptick? Outside shooting. He’s 5-9 from deep in those two games. If Washington doesn’t respect his outside shot, it could be a long night.