CHICAGO - This week has been anything but holy for the New Orleans Pelicans. It's more like holy cow as the team plunged to its third straight defeat.
Seven days ago, the Pelicans were a cinch to make the playoffs with a 43-30 record that made them the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Since then, they got waxed by the Rockets on March 24, 114-91, nipped by the Blazers three days later, 107-103, and outlasted by Cavaliers on Friday, 107-102.
Thanks to that three-game fling with heartache, the Pelicans fell from fourth to eighth place in the talent-rich West. And just like that, the playoffs appearance that once glowed with a sure sign now flickers with a disheartened maybe.
It wasn't Friday the 13th, but Friday the 30th proved to be a horrifying bad beat for the Pelicans, who lost to the Cavaliers at the Q Arena in Cleveland despite shooting 48.3 percent from the field, 42.3 percent from three-point distance, and leading by as many as 13 points.
LeBron James had a historic night by scoring double figures in points for the 867th consecutive game, a superhuman feat that eclipsed Michael Jordan's record. The King fell one dime short of a triple-double and finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
The Pelicans provided enough firepower to mitigate James' rampage. Anthony Davis finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and four blocks while Jrue Holiday and Nikola Mirotic combined for 45 points on 20-of-31 shooting from the field.
But New Orleans couldn't survive a turbulent third quarter in which their defense hemorrhaged a game-turning, momentum-changing 33 points.
"It's on me," Davis told the Associated Press. He was quick to own up after missing 13 of 19 shots and falling 6.3 points short of his 31.3 points per game average the last seven games.
In their diminished state, 43-33 in the standings, the Pelicans need to hold off the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets who are both 41-35 and just two games behind with six games left in their schedules. But instead of looking at what lurks in the rear view mirror, the Pelicans need to stare at what's ahead.
Next up for New Orleans are home games versus OKC (April 1) and Memphis (April 4). They then go on a three-game road trip to Phoenix (April 6), Golden State (April 7) and L.A. Clippers (April 9) before ending their season with a home date with the Spurs at the Smoothie King Center on April 11.
If the Pelicans can finish this stretch at 4-2, they will most likely make the playoffs. Anything less would leave everything to chance.
NOT A DRILL BUT THE REAL DEAL. When Erik Speolstra's received a phone call last Saturday informing him that his wife Nikki's water broke and that their child will be born three weeks ahead of schedule, he was immediately skeptical.
As reported by NBA.com, the Miami Heat head coach asked: "OK, is this a fire drill?" Apparently it wasn't because someone on the other end of the cellphone line started screaming like a drill sergeant.
A pleasantly stunned Spo quickly made arrangements to fly from Indianapolis to South Florida to be with his 30-year old bride, a former Miami Heat dancer. Spo, 47, turned over the coaching chores to assistant Dan Craig and Miami's 113-107 overtime loss to the Indy Pacers was the first game he missed in almost 10 years.
The couple's first child was a healthy baby boy named Santiago Ray. And in this age of metrics, the kid's stats are pretty darn good - 6 pounds and 8 ounces in weight and 19 inches in length.
"Life-changing, obviously. Mom is great. Baby is great, It's been a blessing the last couple of days," Spo said.
Too early to tell if the Spoelstras have plans to add more members to their growing family. But if they decide to do so, there is plenty of room in the nest.
According to the Miami Herald, the Spoelstras, who were married last July, 22, 2016, recently moved into a six-bedroom, eight-bathroom house in the Riviera Section of Coral Gables, an affluent city 11 miles away from downtown Miami.
Spoelstra's 6,800 square foot home was sold for $4.4 million a year ago. A hefty price for sure, but coach Spo, thanks to a three-year $15 million contract extension he signed last December 2016, has immense purchasing power.