Can Kings end five-game skid against Pelicans? ‘It’s put up or shut up’

The Kings will have two days between dispatching the Golden State Warriors and traveling to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans where a win gets them into the playoffs for the second year in a row.

It won’t be easy. The Pelicans went 5-0 against Sacramento this season.

But the Kings believe if they can overcome the Warriors, the team that beat them in Game 7 inside their own building last spring, they can conquer their demons on Friday for a chance to play the No. 1 seed Oklahoma City in Game 1 of the playoffs on Sunday.

“We made our own bed,” De’Aaron Fox said after Tuesday’s win. “Losing to this team already five times in a row, it’s like put up or shut up. We gonna let this team beat us a sixth time to make it to the playoffs or are we going to get over that hump? It’s on us now.”

The Kings lost consecutive games in New Orleans Nov. 20 and 22. The first was a 37-point blowout and the second was a much closer five-point defeat.

Perhaps the one that stung the most came in a play-in tournament elimination game, when New Orleans won by 10 in Golden 1 Center. New Orleans won Jan. 7 by 33 points and recently, April 11, by 12.

“Someone said before last game that we can’t let them beat us five times,” Davion Mitchell said. “But we try not to put so much pressure on ourselves and we try to just go out there and play and come up with a win.”

How hurt is Zion?

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Pelicans 110-106 in the 7-8 game of the play-in tournament moments before the Kings tipped off, giving L.A. the No. 7 seed and forcing New Orleans to play another game to survive.

Pelicans star Zion Williamson exited the game with an apparent leg injury with 3:13 left after scoring 40 points, leaving his status for Friday uncertain. The Lakers outscored the home team 15-11 after Williamson’s departure to secure the win and a chance to play the No. 2 seed Denver Nuggets in Round 1.

Reports out of New Orleans indicate Williamson suffered a left hamstring injury. He’s dealt with knee, hand, foot and hamstring injuries since being drafted first overall in the 2019 draft.

Williamson appeared in a career-high 70 games this season and averaged 23.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists in four matchups against the Kings.

Williamson had 31 points in the most recent meeting at Golden 1 Center.

“It changes the game a lot for them,” Mitchell said of Williamson potentially missing Friday’s game. “I think he’s a downhill guy. We try to put Domas (Domantas Sabonis) on him, so Domas kinda uses his legs guarding him, just using all that strength. ... If he doesn’t play, it takes a little bit off of Domas and a little bit off of us.”