Pregame report: Bucks at Pelicans
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
• A few hours before tip-off, the NBA announced that Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova has been suspended for one game, for punching Sacramento’s Reggie Evans in the stomach during Wednesday’s game. It’s a key loss for Milwaukee – Ilyasova has started 40 games for the Bucks this season and is one of their best scorers and rebounders.
• Pelicans Coach Monty Williams on the health of his players who have been on the floor recently: “There are guys who’ve played a lot of minutes, and they’re feeling (the effects of) it a little bit. Brian Roberts is playing more minutes than he’s ever played. Tyreke (Evans) is in the starting lineup. The guy who’s done a really good job of managing his body this season is Eric (Gordon). Everybody around the league is feeling it. It’s just that time of year.”
• Williams on the up-tempo style of play in Tuesday’s 132-125 victory at the Lakers: “I didn’t like that pace for us consistently. I think we can do it from time to time. We were making shots in the paint, and that was a big deal for us. I think when we can attack the basket and play transition defense, it works out OK. In the third quarter, our transition went away for a while, but then we got back to playing our kind of basketball. Consistently, I don’t see us playing at that pace on a regular basis.”
• Alexis Ajinca had one of the best games of his career on Feb. 12 at Milwaukee, going a perfect 7-for-7 from the field, totaling 16 points and nine rebounds. Williams: “He was active around the basket, and guys did a good job of getting him the ball when he dove in pick-and-rolls.”
• Williams on the Bucks: “You can’t take this team for granted by any stretch or by any means. We have to go out there and defend well, have to stop pick-and-roll situations and can’t give up extra possessions.”
• What’s at stake for the Bucks (12-48): Milwaukee appears headed for the NBA’s worst record in 2013-14 unless it can put together a positive stretch run. The Bucks are three wins behind the next-closest team in the standings, Philadelphia.
• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (24-37): New Orleans can get back to .500 at home this season with a victory over Milwaukee. A win would also mean that the Pelicans have swept five different Eastern Conference teams this season (Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia).