Pregame report: Pelicans at Mavericks
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
News and updates from the American Airlines Center prior to Wednesday's Southwest Division game between New Orleans and Dallas:
• Asked whether he’s considered going to some unconventional rotations to get a look at different players down the stretch of the regular season, Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said “It’s hard for me to even think that way, because I’m always thinking, ‘If we can win these many games, we have a shot.’ I know I’m probably the only one who thinks that way. I’m sure Mickey (Loomis) and I will sit down and talk about that here soon, what we can do to take a look at the future of our roster.” The Pelicans have already relied heavily on some lineups they never expected to put on the floor this season, due to key injuries to Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith.
• Williams: “We just had a bad stretch here of late. My mind is on trying to win games. When you’re trying to do that, you want to put the guys out there who will help you. Not experiment.”
• Williams said that Greg Stiemsma hurt his shoulder during Monday’s game vs. the Clippers, but is OK to play tonight. Stiemsma will continue to start, with Alexis Ajinca coming off the bench. Ajinca had a career-best 19 points and 12 rebounds as a reserve Monday.
• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (23-33): New Orleans is trying to avoid being swept by Dallas this season in the annual four-game series. Two of the previous three matchups have been close calls, with the Mavericks prevailing by just three points both at home and away. “To get a win tonight, before we go way out West, would be really nice for our team,” Williams said of having upcoming road games at Phoenix, Sacramento and Los Angeles (twice).
• What’s at stake for the Mavericks (35-23): Dallas has moved up to seventh place in the West, benefiting from a two-game losing streak by eighth-place Phoenix. The Mavericks are 2.5 games ahead of ninth-place Memphis. Realistically, a No. 6 seed might be the best the Mavs can do unless they get red-hot, because current No. 5 Portland is 4.5 games ahead in the standings.