Brian Roberts expected to start at point guard
Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Throughout Jason Smith’s four seasons as a member of New Orleans’ NBA franchise, the scenario of a backup player moving into a starting role due to injury is an all-too-familiar one. This week alone, the Pelicans have now twice had to shuffle their starting lineup as a result of a first-string player being sidelined.
When New Orleans (15-19) hosts Dallas on Friday, it’s expected that Brian Roberts will take over the starting point guard role, replacing Jrue Holiday. Holiday was ruled out of action indefinitely Friday morning, due to a stress fracture in his right tibia. Smith, himself just returning from an injury when he played Tuesday at Miami, said Roberts will be one of several players asked to increase their contributions in Holiday’s absence.
“We have a great point guard in Brian Roberts,” Smith said. “He’s going to start for us tonight. He’s just got to get our guys in the right places when they’re running plays, take command of our team and really go out there with force.”
With Ryan Anderson (herniated disc) and Holiday out of action, the Pelicans are now down to 12 available players for the weekend back-to-back with the Mavericks. Of those dozen players, only Roberts and Austin Rivers have played notable NBA minutes as a point guard, Rivers to a much lesser extent.
“Knowing that we don’t really have too many guys to come off the bench, he’s just got to stay out of foul trouble, but at the same time, continue to play hard,” Smith said of Roberts.
“It’s another opportunity for me,” said Roberts, whose playing time has fluctuated throughout 2013-14. “It’s unfortunate that Jrue’s out for a little bit. We’ve just got to have guys rally around and pick up the slack.”
New Orleans went 2-3 when Roberts started at point guard last season, tand at Houston two weeks ago when Roberts drew a starting nod, sharing ballhandling duties in the backcourt with Holiday. Holiday is the only Pelicans player to have appeared in each of the team’s 34 games, but that streak will end tonight.
“The injuries have been kind of plaguing us this year,” Smith said. “That’s really something you can’t control, though. We’re a team that goes out and plays hard every night. When you do that, you’ve got to take care of your body as best you can. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.”