Pregame report: Pelicans at Rockets (4/12/14)

by Jim Eichenhofer

HOUSTON – After sustaining a right knee bone bruise Friday at Oklahoma City, New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans will attempt to play Saturday, in the second game of a back-to-back. Roughly 90 minutes before tip-off, Pelicans Coach Monty Williams was still uncertain if Evans would be on the floor.

The news was less encouraging on point guard Brian Roberts, who will not play against the Rockets. Meanwhile, center Greg Stiemsma is also a game-time decision.

As a result, New Orleans’ starting lineup could have various changes yet again. Williams noted that even if Evans is able to play, the Pelicans may bring Evans off the bench, in order to keep his minutes to a reasonable level. In Friday’s loss at Oklahoma City, the Pelicans moved Austin Rivers into the first unit for the first time in 2013-14. They also elevated Jeff Withey to the starting power forward slot.

New Orleans (32-47) will have no more than 10 healthy players available Saturday as a result of Roberts’ DNP. That number could shrink to just eight if both Evans and Stiemsma are unable to suit up against Houston (52-27). Other notes from Toyota Center:

• Williams to Houston reporters on the decision to shut down Anthony Davis: “He’s had a great season. Usually when you lose a guy, it’s a traumatic or tragic incident. It’s not that. We felt like it’s best for him to rest. After talking to the doctors, at the time we had five games left. It wasn’t that (difficult) of a decision. We had to do what’s best for him and the organization. We felt like it was time, because he wasn’t getting any better.”

• Houston Coach Kevin McHale said in pregame that both Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley will return to action tonight.

• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (32-47): In its final road game of 2013-14, New Orleans will try to end a seven-game losing streak, while getting numerous young players extended minutes and chances to contribute.

• What’s at stake for the Rockets (52-27): Houston is only half of a game ahead of Portland (52-28) for the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Rockets and Trail Blazers seem likely to face each other in the 4-5 matchup, but taking fourth would mean homecourt advantage.