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New Orleans Pelicans coach Willie Green lights into team over technical fouls, approach

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The start of the season for the New Orleans Pelicans has been rough. It got worse Wednesday night.

After a 108-100 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder that dropped New Orleans to 1-11 on the season and marked its eighth consecutive loss, coach Willie Green lit into his players in the postgame press conference. But it wasn't their play that he took issue with, it was their discipline.

The Pelicans were called for five technical fouls in the second quarter alone.

"It's not the losing streak," Green said. "It's not one quarter. It's our approach to this game. There were moments in the game where we just didn't have guys who didn't compete hard enough for me. Hard enough for our team. That's a non-negotiable for me. That's the deal. That's who we are. As the leader of this team, I can't have that. I can't have guys on the floor if they aren't going to give 110%."

It started when players argued calls or gestured toward the officials working the game. Centers Jonas Valančiūnas and Jaxson Hayes and guard Devonte' Graham each drew a technical in the span of a few minutes.

Then, with just fewer than three minutes to play before halftime, swingman Josh Hart was called for a foul on a rebound against Oklahoma City's Luguentz Dort. On the play, Dort did appear to initiate contact as he was coming in to attempt to grab the board, when the officials blew their whistles. After a brief conference, the officials decided to call Hart with the foul.

Hart immediately disagreed and argued with the officials and drew two quick technical fouls that resulted in his ejection.

"Our guys thought they got fouled and we didn't get the call," Green said. "However, we're not going to get those calls. We haven't earned them. So what are we complaining about? Until we earn it, we're not going to get that. That's the deal. I talked to our guys about it. We have to keep our composure. Our margin for error is too small to do what we did tonight."

New Orleans Pelicans coach Willie Green looks on against Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Smoothie King Center.
New Orleans Pelicans coach Willie Green looks on against Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Smoothie King Center.

Green went on to say that during his discussion with the team, he stressed how important it was to have players available, especially because the Pelicans are already shorthanded with injuries.

"We need Josh," Green continued. "We need Jonas. Jaxson Hayes can't get technicals. We need everybody to compete and play at a high level to win the game."

Forward Zion Williamson, the Pelicans' best player, has not appeared in a game this season as he recovers from a broken bone in his right foot. Forward Brandon Ingram also missed his sixth game in a row Wednesday night with a hip issue.

The Pelicans have the NBA's worst record so far this season, with a winning percentage of .083. The next closest team, the Houston Rockets, are also in the Western Conference, but have one loss fewer and have a winning percentage of .091.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pelicans coach Willie Green rips team over technical fouls, approach