Pregame report: Pelicans at Bobcats
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (23-30): New Orleans is attempting to notch its fifth season-series sweep of an Eastern Conference club, already doing so against Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia. The Pelicans are in 12th place in the West, two games behind 11th-place Denver (25-28). They’re eight games out of eighth place.
• What’s at stake for the Bobcats (25-30): Currently eighth in the East, Charlotte improved its playoff chances significantly with a back-to-back sweep over No. 9 Detroit earlier this week. The Bobcats can improve to .500 at home on the season with a victory tonight and continue their recent solid play. They’ve won six of their last 10 games.
• On his weekly “Monty Williams Show” Thursday, the Pelicans’ head coach made a surprise pick for the player he’d like to step up in upcoming games – All-Star power forward Anthony Davis. Williams explained that “if you look at his numbers since he made the All-Star team, there’s been a bit of a drop-off. Some of that’s natural (to experience regression from big individual numbers), but we need him to play well. We need him to be focused. He can’t get into early foul trouble, picking up fouls against guards (on the perimeter). For us to be good, AD has to play well, Eric (Gordon) has to play well and we need three or four more guys playing above their normal production.”
• Williams on Luke Babbitt’s contributions since recently signing: “He’s gotten more comfortable on the floor, he’s learning our sets. It takes a while to see growth from a player. I think he’ll take a jump this summer, when he’s with the coaches a lot longer. It’s a lot to come from overseas and listen to a totally different (terminology). He’s done a good job of trying to fit in.”
• Charlotte was one of the teams that made a move prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, acquiring guards Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal from Milwaukee, but Bobcats Coach Steve Clifford said neither will play tonight. They have not been cleared by the NBA yet, during what Clifford described as a 48-hour waiting period for both halves of the deal to be finalized in the league’s eyes. Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien were sent to the Bucks in the trade. Clifford said of the pair of additions that “I think we’ve improved our skill level on the perimeter” and added shooting prowess.
• In a rarity this season, for once it appears the Pelicans will have more players in uniform (12) than the opposition. In addition to waiting for Neal and Ridnour to suit up, they are also without the injured Brendan Haywood and Jeffery Taylor, giving them just 11 bodies for tonight’s game.