Pregame report: Pelicans at Wolves
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
News and updates from Target Center prior to Wednesday's Western Conference game between New Orleans and Minnesota:
• Eric Gordon will make his return to the court tonight after missing the past three games, in yet another instance of the Pelicans having to integrate an injured player back in the mix. Pelicans Coach Monty Williams: “I think our guys have been really good at adjusting to the situation. It’s not good for the guys who have to play around that (uncertainty) – guys like Austin (Rivers), Darius (Miller) and Brian (Roberts) – but that’s what this team dictates. And Anthony Morrow is (also) in that group. I think our guys have been pretty resilient, as far as accepting their roles.” The four players Williams mentioned have occasionally gone from DNPs to being on the floor during critical fourth-quarter minutes, often depending on which of their teammates have been unavailable due to injury. The Pelicans (14-15) have rarely been at full strength, amid the overlapping key injuries that have taken place since preseason.
• Pelicans center Jason Smith will not play. He has been placed on the inactive list for tonight’s game.
• Williams, asked about trying to build upon Monday’s dramatic victory over Portland: “We want to be consistent every night – I think that’s what every NBA team strives for. When you win a game like that, it gives you confidence. But the bottom line is we have a tough opponent tonight. We’ve got to respect that.”
• There are several intriguing individual matchups between these two teams, including potentially extended time of Jrue Holiday vs. Ricky Rubio at point guard. With Smith out due to injury, meaning the task of guarding Nikola Pekovic initially will go to either Ryan Anderson or Anthony Davis. Anderson has been no stranger to difficult assignments in the paint recently; in New Orleans’ last road game Saturday, he spent many possessions trying to defend Dwight Howard. Anderson and Davis will have to contend with Timberwolves All-Star power forward Kevin Love. Gordon-Kevin Martin is also an excellent matchup of two dynamic scorers at shooting guard.
• Williams on one emphasis for New Orleans: “Playing a 48-minute game instead of 45 minutes is something we’ve talked about all year long. It always comes down to defense for us, getting stops and playing a good 18 to 20 seconds of defense. When we do that, we give ourselves an opportunity to win.”