Pregame report: Pelicans at Clippers
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
News and updates from Staples Center prior to Saturday’s Western Conference game between New Orleans and Los Angeles:
• Pelicans Coach Monty Williams on impact of lineup changes on Tyreke Evans, who made his first start of the season Friday: “You try to do everything you can to help a guy, especially when they’re struggling. He played a lot better last night. I think it helps him when there are more shooters around him. Is it a lineup that we’re going to permanently etch in stone? I’m not sure about that. But last night, in stretches, it looked pretty good.”
• Williams on weighing trying to win with trying to develop players for the long term: “It’s a combination. You want to win, and yet you’re still putting guys on the floor that need time to play. Jeff (Withey) is going to get more time, but I think when I put him out there, I think he helps us win. Austin (Rivers) has played the point guard position for a while, and the jury’s still out there. But we’ve still got to give him time to figure it out.”
• On what he remembers most about last week’s loss to the Clippers, Williams said: “Our defense in the first quarter. Their dunks at the rim. They hit a lot of tough shots, a number of threes that were contested. You have to have good offense (against the Clippers), so that you can set your defense. We did not have that after the first eight minutes of the first quarter.”
• At the same time Williams spoke to the media, the Clippers held a press conference for new signee Danny Granger. The New Orleans native was traded by the Pacers at the deadline, then bought out by the 76ers.
• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (23-35): New Orleans is trying to end a six-game losing streak, dating back to the All-Star break. The Pelicans are also seeking their first victory against a team that is currently over .500 since exactly a month ago, Feb. 1 over Chicago.
• What’s at stake for the Clippers (40-20): As the leaders of the Pacific Division, the Clippers are currently the projected No. 4 seed in the West, even though No. 5 Houston has a slightly better winning percentage. If the season ended today though, the Rockets would have homecourt advantage, so every game is important for the Clippers. L.A. is 3.5 games ahead of Golden State in the Pacific.
• It’s Rivers Bowl IV tonight. Doc holds a 2-1 advantage over Austin, with both of his wins coming this season as the Clippers’ head coach. Austin is averaging 6.0 points and 2.0 rebounds against the Clippers in the two matchups.