Eric Gordon out; Anthony Morrow to start vs. Nuggets
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
For the first time this season, the New Orleans Pelicans will start someone other than Eric Gordon at shooting guard on Friday, when they host the Denver Nuggets at 7 p.m. Gordon has been ruled out due to a right hip contusion, which he suffered after a nasty fall to the hardwood Monday at Sacramento. Anthony Morrow will take over as the starting shooting guard, making his third start of 2013-14. Morrow had previously made two starts at small forward in November.
Meanwhile, Pelicans starting center Jason Smith will miss his third consecutive game after playing in the first 24 contests. With Smith out in Portland and Sacramento, Anthony Davis was shifted to starting center, while Ryan Anderson took over Davis’ power forward slot.
Gordon and Smith are both being listed as day-to-day, making their status for Saturday’s 7 p.m. game at Houston also uncertain.
“He wants to play, but right now it’s just not smart,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said of Gordon. “It’s one of those injuries that, it looks bad and feels bad. He hasn’t torn anything or broken anything, but there’s not much pad on your hip when you go down like that. It could be any day (that he returns). He’s really day-to-day, based on what the doctors say.”
Williams said he considered moving Tyreke Evans into the starting lineup at shooting guard, but ultimately decided to go with Morrow so that Evans can remain in his sixth-man role. Evans has come off the bench in all 24 of his appearances this season.
“We decided to go with Anthony Morrow because he gives us the shooting and the spacing of the floor that can help Anthony (Davis), Ryan, Al-Farouq (Aminu) and Jrue (Holiday),” Williams said. “I thought about Tyreke (starting), but I really like him off the bench.”
Smith joins Greg Stiemsma as Pelicans centers unavailable to play short term. As a result, Williams only has 12 healthy players Friday against the Nuggets. Recent frontcourt injuries – including a 17-day absence by Davis – contributed to the decision to sign 7-foot-2 Alexis Ajinca on Dec. 20.
“Each day they get closer as their bodies heal,” Williams said of Smith and Stiemsma. “It’s good that we have Alexis and (Davis) back in the lineup for sure. It’s going to give us some depth at the big positions.”