Ryan Anderson, Pelicans bigs to see expanded roles
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
CHICAGO – On Monday the New Orleans Pelicans visited the last place they should expect to receive sympathy over losing a star player to injury. Good thing for the Pelicans and their head coach, they’re not looking for any.
For the second straight season, the Chicago Bulls will be without former league MVP Derrick Rose due to a season-ending knee injury. With Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis now sidelined for a to-be-determined amount of time with a fractured left hand, fourth-year coach Monty Williams sees the absence as a chance for other players to show what they can do. Davis will be evaluated Tuesday by team doctors when the club travels back to New Orleans.
“We know better than anybody what injuries can do to your team,” said Williams, who will start Ryan Anderson in Davis’ spot at power forward. “We’ve just got to figure out ways to get guys on the floor to help our team compete. I just remind guys all the time, it’s the NBA. All the guys who wanted more playing time, they’re going to get it. So they’ve got to back up all that stuff they’ve been talking and thinking. That’s the nature of the NBA.”
Along with Anderson's move to the starting lineup, the Pelicans announced 45 minutes before tip-off that Al-Farouq Aminu will regain the small forward spot in the first unit from Anthony Morrow.
Oddly enough, this marks the second time in two seasons that Davis has sustained an injury the night before New Orleans was scheduled to play in his hometown of Chicago. Last November, he suffered a concussion vs. Utah, less than 24 hours before he missed a weekend game at the United Center due to the injury. Minutes after Sunday’s game in New York, a downcast Davis caught Williams’ attention in the locker room and noted that he’d miss his “homecoming game” again.
“He certainly wanted to play here,” Williams said. “One of the first things he said when we got back to the locker room was, ‘Two years in a row.’ It took me a minute to realize what he was talking about. He just really wanted to play. I feel bad for him.”
In addition to Anderson’s elevation to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in all of his seven appearances, Davis’ DNP could impact reserve bigs Lou Amundson and Jeff Withey. Amundson has received spot minutes in recent games, while Withey has been inactive but was moved to the active list tonight.
“Ryan’s going to play more, obviously.” Williams said. “It’s good to have Lou, and Jeff may play a bigger role than he anticipated before this (road) trip. We may play some small ball with (Al-Farouq Aminu) at the four like we did last night.”
Williams was encouraged that the Pelicans were able to overtake the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Monday, despite playing without Davis for the final three-plus quarters. New Orleans has also been without backup center Greg Stiemsma, cutting into the team’s frontcourt depth.
“It was a good sign, but we can’t be satisfied,” Williams said. “We’re going to have to try to figure out how to win games even though we’re missing Greg and Anthony. It’s a big blow. But that’s the NBA. Other guys have got to step up.”