Pregame report: Nets at Pelicans
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
News and updates from the Smoothie King Center prior to Monday’s interconference game between Brooklyn and New Orleans:
UPDATE: Eric Gordon will not play. The Pelicans are starting Brian Roberts, Tyreke Evans, Al-Farouq Aminu, Anthony Davis and Greg Stiemsma.
• Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon is not expected to play, meaning he would miss his second straight game with left knee tendinitis. Monty Williams: “I’m leaning toward him not playing tonight, just because of the things I saw this morning (at shootaround). Obviously we need him on the floor, but if he can’t go, he can’t go. We’ve got guys who are ready to play. Our (player development) program is one of the best in the NBA. We trust the guys we put in.”
• Williams said Saturday’s starting lineup – which included Luke Babbitt as a surprise at forward – was specifically for the Miami matchup. “It was more game-specific,” Williams said. “Coach (Bryan) Gates brought up Luke in our meetings. We spent a lot of talking time about changing lineups, adding a bit of this or that to the different situations. I went with it. When you win the game, obviously it looks a bit better, but we’re going to go back to normal tonight and go from there.”
• Greg Stiemsma will start at center, moving Anthony Davis back to his normal position of power forward.
• Nets Coach Jason Kidd on Davis: “He’s putting up some amazing numbers. He can rebound, score the ball. I think he’s a little bit more comfortable now shooting jump shots. He’s showing his range. He’s long. If you don’t get to him early, he’s going to find his way to the rim.”
• What’s at stake for the Nets (37-31): After struggling in a big way through Dec. 31, Brooklyn has moved into the race for an Atlantic Division title, trailing Toronto by only 1.5 games. The Nets barely looked like a playoff team early in 2013-14, but have a chance to earn a No. 3 seed if they keep playing well. This is the middle stop of a three-game road trip for Brooklyn, which began Sunday with a win at Dallas.
• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (29-40): New Orleans wants to continue building upon its recent stellar play, featuring six wins in the past nine games, headlined by Saturday’s home victory over Miami. New Orleans is 17-17 at home this season, with seven games remaining in the Smoothie King Center.
• Worth noting, this morning’s Pelicans.com “Shootaround Show” featured some excellent insight on Davis’ recent surge, from Gates and Davis himself.