The Pelican Blog

Pregame report: Pelicans at Raptors

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer


News and updates from the Air Canada Centre prior to Monday’s interconference game between New Orleans and Toronto:

• Excluding the injured trio of Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith, all 12 New Orleans players will be available to play tonight for the Pelicans (22-28).

• Both teams feature a young All-Star who’ll be on the floor at the Smoothie King Center on Feb. 16, including 24-year-old Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan and 20-year-old New Orleans forward Anthony Davis. Pelicans Coach Monty Williams on Davis: “He’s so good at his first move, now he’s got to work on his counters. When you’re 20, you have a lot to improve upon. He’s an All-Star, and yet it’s a really cool position to be in, that you have a lot of improvement (possible). It doesn’t bode well for his opponents going forward. He’s got to put the work in, and that’s what he’s been able to do.”

• Luke Babbitt has managed to make a quick impact, with very little practice time under his belt. The reserve scored nine points in Sunday’s game, on three three-pointers. Williams on Babbitt: “He stretches the floor and I like Luke because he’s just not afraid. He has what young guys call ‘swagger.’ I just call it confidence. I like guys like that.”

• While Williams was addressing a fairly large media contingent, former New Orleans point guard Greivis Vasquez suddenly emerged from behind the group to give Williams a hug. Only moments earlier, Williams had joked that Vasquez “probably doesn’t want to see me, (because) I was so tough on him. He probably will start itching or sweating as soon as he sees me, thinking I’m going to yell at him. He was a bright spot for me, a big-time flagship for our (player development) program, a guy who worked his tail off and had his best year with us. Great kid, great attitude, and I know the people up here feel the same way.”

• Williams: “My job is to make guys better. I don’t get caught up in trying to be somebody’s friend. Nowadays it’s called a player’s coach. I’m probably the furthest from that. I don’t know what that is. I’m always demanding the things I think they need. The last thing (a player) wants is somebody to tell them it’s OK, when it’s not.”