Pelicans get ready for Friday's game against Thunder
Fresh off of having their season-best three-game winning streak snapped Wednesday evening, the New Orleans Pelicans went back to work Thursday at the team’s Metairie practice facility to prepare for Friday night’s home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder comes into New Orleans off a 111-104 defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers, a loss that ended its eight-game winning streak. The Thunder (13-4), as usual, was led by scoring sensation Kevin Durant (33 points) and point guard Russell Westbrook (21).
Thursday was the first chance the Pelicans (9-9) had to practice since losing star forward Anthony Davis to a broken bone in his left hand Sunday in the first quarter against the Knicks. The Pelicans went on to beat the Knicks and then outlasted the Chicago Bulls in a triple-overtime classic Monday night. Davis is expected to miss four to six weeks with the injury to his non-shooting hand.
Forward Ryan Anderson has done a sensational job since moving into the lineup to replace Davis but the second unit has missed his scoring punch. In the Pelicans’ 100-97 loss to Dallas, the bench struggled to score with Tyreke Evans and Anthony Morrow combining to shoot 1-for-14.
“They went on a 15-2 run on our bench,” Coach Monty Williams said Thursday. “Your bench has to maintain or increase to be a good team.”
The Pelicans were a little sloppy with the ball Wednesday as well, turning it over 16 times compared to the Mavericks’ seven.
“I’d like to think we’re going to play better than we did last night,” Williams said. “Have to in order to compete (against the Thunder).”
One player who has been competing for the Pelicans is point guard Jrue Holiday. He scored 26 points and added nine assists against the Mavericks to follow up Monday night’s 19-point, 12-assist effort in the thrilling win over the Bulls.
“I think for a while now I’ve been more comfortable passing the ball and making good reads with way less turnovers,” Holiday said Thursday, “ so that’s a confidence-builder.”
Williams said Holiday’s excellent play of late is no surprise. “That’s who he is. He can get it done on both sides. He’s a two-way player… He’s just scratching the surface.”