Pregame report: Nuggets at Pelicans
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
News and updates from the Smoothie King Center prior to Sunday’s Western Conference game between Denver and New Orleans:
• Monty Williams on what he’s liked most about the last two Pelicans victories: “We’ve had contributions from a few more guys. We’ve had contributions off the bench. We need all of (our players) to give ourselves a chance to win.”
• Luke Babbitt’s minutes have decreased in recent games, after he had played some stretch power forward off the bench. Williams on the reason behind Babbitt’s three recent DNPs: “He hasn’t gotten a chance to play because of different lineups (by opponents). We’ve kept him at the four (position), and lately we’ve played against bigger, stronger fours, who kind of take him out of the equation.”
• Williams on keys against Denver: “We certainly have to get back in transition. We didn’t do a good job (in Denver) of keeping them off the glass. We got out and ran a lot here (in the Dec. 27 game at New Orleans), and a lot of it was because we got (defensive) stops. We have to keep them out of transition. We had to keep (Kenneth) Faried and (J.J.) Hickson off the glass.”
• Alexis Ajinca has been interesting to watch over the past few weeks, producing several quality games sprinkled in with others in which foul trouble damages his chance to contribute. “He’s had a couple plays where he’s been slow to respond to the action,” Williams said of Ajinca’s foul issues. “I think it will help his rebounding if he’s more active and can see the play happening before (it happens). I think sometimes he’s a second late.”
• What’s at stake for the Nuggets (27-34): Like the Pelicans, the Nuggets would love to make it three wins in a row today. Denver is nine games out of eighth place in the West, meaning their 10-year playoff streak will end this spring.
• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (25-37): New Orleans can move over .500 at home on the season with a victory, as well as win its third consecutive game. The Pelicans are 2.5 games behind the Nuggets for 11th place in the West.