Brian Roberts, Eric Gordon out vs. Jazz
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
One of the few New Orleans Pelicans players who had not previously missed a game due to injury this season, point guard Brian Roberts will be sidelined Friday for a second straight game due to a bone bruise in his left knee. His starting backcourt partner for a chunk of the season, Eric Gordon, also will miss tonight’s game vs. the Utah Jazz, with left knee tendinitis. However, Austin Rivers is returning to the mix for the Pelicans, giving Monty Williams a total of 10 players for the Western Conference matchup.
“Austin looked good yesterday in practice and today he was back to normal,” Williams said. “Brian practiced this morning a little bit, but we certainly don’t want to put him in harm’s way. If I let him, I think he would try to (play) tonight, but he’s just not in a position to be effective the way that he can be.”
Other notes from Smoothie King Center:
• Williams said he will use the same starting lineup from Wednesday’s win over the Clippers. Tyreke Evans and Anthony Morrow start at guard, Al-Farouq Aminu and Anthony Davis are the forwards, Greg Stiemsma is the center.
• Williams on Alexis Ajinca’s effectiveness as a sub: “For whatever reason, he’s able to see the game for a few minutes and then come in, bring the energy and force that we want him to bring. I’ve talked to him about it. He’s just not comfortable with starting, which is tough on your pocketbook – a lot of starting centers get paid. To be honest, with you Greg (Stiemsma) isn’t all that happy about starting, either. He likes coming off the bench. But he gives us a level of toughness and know-how to start games.”
• What’s at stake for the Jazz (23-49): Utah is in last place in the Western Conference, but just one win behind the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a two-game road trip for the Jazz, a trek that concludes Sunday at Oklahoma City.
• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (31-40): New Orleans is trying to win its fifth straight game. The Pelicans also would love to pick up a win entering Saturday’s extremely difficult back-to-back at San Antonio. New Orleans has pulled to within a half game of Denver for 11th in the West.