Pregame report: Pelicans at Hawks
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
News and updates from Philips Arena prior to Friday’s interconference game between New Orleans and Atlanta:
• The Pelicans welcome back Anthony Davis after the first-time All-Star missed Wednesday’s loss to Toronto with an upper respiratory infection. Jeff Withey received the starting nod against the Raptors, becoming the 12th different Pelican to start at least one game this season. “It takes a couple days for something like that to run its course, but he’s feeling a lot better,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said of Davis’ health.
• It probably bears repeating since Davis’ most recent game was Sunday vs. Boston that the power forward has averaged 32.3 points over his last six appearances. Since the All-Star break, Davis is averaging 24.1 points and 11.2 rebounds. Prior to All-Star, his numbers were 20.5 and 10.1 in those categories.
• Williams mentioned that the Pelicans will have Tyreke Evans spend additional time handling the ball and playing point guard the rest of the season, particularly when he’s on the floor with the team’s reserves. “That will help us finish quarters better, I think,” Williams said. “Getting the ball in his hands and try to do something (like) what they did in Sacramento, putting him at the lead guard position. He’s a willing passer and understands situations. Offensively, I think that will help us. Defensively, we’ve got to make sure we get back in transition and not give up easy baskets in that aspect of the game.”
• Williams on putting Evans in a position where he’ll be making more crucial decisions with the ball: “He has to understand what we need and (understand) time, score and situation. He’s been in situations before. He and (Davis) have some synergy in pick-and-roll. We’ve got to take advantage of that.”
• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (27-40): New Orleans hopes to post a win prior to entering one of its toughest schedule stretches of the season, with games vs. Miami, surging Brooklyn and the Clippers over the next five days.
• What’s at stake for the Hawks (31-35): Quite a bit, actually. Not only is Atlanta trying to extend its five-game winning streak, but it’s also attempting to hold off ninth-place New York for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have stayed in the hunt by putting together a seven-game win streak, the second-longest active streak in the NBA (San Antonio has won 11 straight).