LOS ANGELES -- The thrill is gone, J.J. Redick says. Dropping five of seven games, including a crushing 17-point loss Wednesday to Golden State, will sap the strength and exhilaration from some of the best NBA teams.
"I think the big takeaway for me after the game (Wednesday) was just like, we've got to play with some joy," the Los Angeles Clippers guard told the Los Angeles Times. "Basketball's meant to be fun. We're serious, you've got to be prepared, you've got to follow the game plan and all that, but I just think we're better when we play with joy.
"The Warriors certainly do that on a nightly basis. I'm not going to continue to compare the two teams, but they're sort of the standard right now, along with the Spurs and the Cavs. Those are the teams that have won the last three championships. Those teams play with joy."
The Clippers have enjoyed seeing the Pelicans many times, particularly at home where they have captured seven consecutive wins. Los Angeles has won 14 of the last 18 meetings between the two. In their last matchup on Dec. 2, the Clippers rolled to a 114-96 win in New Orleans behind Blake Griffin's 27 points.
However, Griffin is a game-time decision for Saturday's game, apparently ailing from a knee injury. Griffin endured one of his poorest outings of the season against the Warriors, managing just 12 points on 5-of-20 shooting from the floor.
Despite roaring out of the gate with an NBA-best 14-2 mark, the Clippers (16-7) have struggled recently. Some of their troubles have resulted in a large disparity in points in the paint, where they have been been outscored by 20 or more points in the past two games.
They also had some controversy stir up after the loss to Golden State with former Warriors and now Clippers forward Marreese Speights complaining about his teammates crying about officiating.
"First we need to really stop and leave the refs alone," Speights said.
Speights backed off that assessment a day later.
"It's just something I should have just said it in different kind of ways," he said, according to the Times.
The Pelicans (7-16) have lost four in a row but reached perhaps their lowest point on Thursday when the Philadelphia 76ers ended a 23-game road skid by beating the Pelicans 99-88. Afterward, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was asked if he feared his job might be in jeopardy.
"I really don't give a (expletive) about my job status," Gentry said, according to the New Orleans Advocate. "I'm going to work hard and coach until the day they tell me I'm not the coach here anymore. It doesn't matter. I don't ever worry about that."
Davis has been the lone constant for New Orleans, averaging a league-high 31.4 points per game and 2.77 blocks before Friday's games. His 11.4 rebounds per game ranked seventh.
The Pelicans also have gotten a boost from guard Jrue Holiday, who is averaging 15.4 points per game.