By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis is confident that his team can continue its recent winning ways, even though the club won’t have its second-leading scorer and top rebounder for the next four to six weeks. If the Pelicans are to remain in the thick of the Western Conference playoff hunt as the calendar flips to 2014, they’ll have to compensate for the loss of their rising 20-year-old star, amid a brutal schedule that consists of 10 opponents with .500 or better records over the next dozen games.
“I’m frustrated I won’t be on the floor, but I have a lot of confidence in our team and our coaches, where we can still pull out wins, no matter who’s on the floor,” said Davis, sidelined by a fractured left hand. “All of our guys are capable of doing anything any given night. I’m frustrated yes, but at the same time, I’m still going to support my team, whether it’s (pointing out) something I see on the floor, in terms of a matchup, or an opposing player. So I’m still going to support them.”
The early results have been encouraging – the Pelicans (9-8) overtook the Knicks on Sunday without Davis for the final three-plus quarters, then outlasted the Bulls on Monday in triple overtime. Davis’ replacement at starting power forward, Ryan Anderson has been phenomenal, averaging 33.5 points in the two games. Over an eight-game span since he returned from his own injury, Anderson is averaging a team-high 22.6 points, while shooting a scorching 55.6 percent from three-point range. More importantly, the Pelicans are 6-2 over that stretch, after starting 3-6, and went 3-0 on their Eastern Conference road trip.
“He’s done a great job,” Davis said of Anderson’s recent play. “He’s come in and played big minutes and was able to play well for us. All of our guys came in and stepped up. That’s what we’re going to need with some of our players down. We hope to keep this thing going. They’re fighting for wins, playing defense, sharing the ball. When we do those things, we’re a tough team to beat, and we’ve been doing that so far.”
After missing 18 games as a rookie last season, Davis is understandably frustrated that he’ll be out for approximately 12 to 20 games (based on the 4-6 week timetable). He said he’ll continue to do normal conditioning and may try some one-handed shooting in the interim; the injury is to his non-shooting hand. Based on the projected recovery timeframe, his return could be anywhere from Jan. 1 to mid-January.
“When you’re not on the floor, it’s tough,” Davis said. “But I’m going to make sure I keep my rhythm and make sure I stay in shape. I’m going to have to see what the trainers have for me and play it by ear. Hopefully I’m on the floor sooner than later.”