Pelicans.com postgame: Thunder 109, Pelicans 95
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
A broken left hand Sunday in New York will sideline Anthony Davis for the next four six to weeks, necessitating the move of bench catalyst Ryan Anderson to the starting five. The New Orleans Pelicans now must hope they won’t have to replace another key member of Monty Williams’ rotation, for a second time in just a five-day span.
Late in the third quarter of Friday’s loss to Oklahoma City, New Orleans reserve swingman Tyreke Evans sustained a nasty-looking left ankle sprain, after dribbling across the lane from right to left. The same injury forced Evans to miss six preseason games and hampered him early in the regular season, causing him to get off to a subpar shooting and scoring start to 2013-14.
Prior to and after the Evans injury, Oklahoma City (14-4) took control of the game from New Orleans (9-10), holding a 22-16 third-quarter edge that pushed its lead to 80-68. The Thunder went up by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter, dropping the Pelicans to 0-2 on their current four-game homestand. New Orleans hosts Detroit and Memphis next week.
Evans’ status will be further evaluated this weekend; New Orleans does not play again until Wednesday against the Pistons. He initially severely sprained his left ankle Oct. 5 at Houston in the preseason opener, returning three weeks later Oct. 25 in the exhibition finale at Orlando. Although Pelicans players did not know the severity of Evans’ re-sprain, they were bracing for having to again compensate for a key performer being out of the lineup.
“Obviously it’s really a tough thing for us, especially to have Tyreke and Anthony out,” Anderson said. “Tyreke’s been playing great lately. He’s been really great off the bench, bringing a ton of energy and bringing what we need, a spark.
“It’s hard, but at the same time, that happens. This is a sport where it’s incredibly common for somebody to be hurt. We have to prepare for that. We want him to get back as soon as possible, but he’s got to heal and recover. I think these next few days will be really important for that, to take care of our bodies and make sure we rest.”
“We’re definitely going to have to step up and go deeper into the rotation,” Eric Gordon said. “It’s tough for those two to be out. The next guy has to step up and do their job. Now we’ve just got to play more freely still, up-tempo. It’s going to be a (tough) task at hand."
New Orleans already faced a big-time challenge in trying to knock off Oklahoma City without Davis. The Pelicans played very well in the first half, building an early 11-point lead, but the Thunder answered in the second quarter. During one critical sequence at the end of the half, Russell Westbrook perfectly executed a two-for-one situation by racing up the floor and draining a three-pointer with 31 seconds left. Reggie Jackson nailed another trey at the buzzer, capping a 6-0 run that turned a tie into a 58-52 Thunder edge. New Orleans never led in the second half.
“It was a tough loss,” Anderson said. “It’s hard, especially the way we’ve been battling and fighting in games, to lose a game like that. We’ve just got to be better and bring it the next game. I think it’s huge for this team (to have practice days), to have these couple days to reflect and figure out how we can get better and improve. Obviously those road games (in New York and Chicago, the latter a triple OT affair) took a lot out of us. For us to have a few days off I think will be very beneficial. We have to get in the gym and work on the things we need to and get better.”