Shootaround update: Blazers at Pelicans (3/14/14)

by Jim Eichenhofer

Updates from Friday morning’s shootaround at the Smoothie King Center:

• After missing Wednesday's game vs. Memphis due to illness, both Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon participated in Thursday's practice and Friday's shootaround.

• Pelicans forward Luke Babbitt on the Trail Blazers, his former team: “They’re doing great. Obviously they started out really hot. They’re playing great basketball overall. Great offensively, improved defensively from last year. It’s exciting for the city and the fans. They’re a young team still, so the sky’s the limit for them.”

• Babbitt’s response to a Portland reporter asking about the state of the Pelicans this season: “Obviously injuries have been a big factor, kind of the plight of this season. The mindset is just to get better. It’s one of the youngest teams in the league, I think. We’re just trying to get better every day. We’re not giving up on this year. We’re trying to win every single game.”

• Babbitt returned to the floor Wednesday vs. Memphis after four consecutive DNPs due to coach’s decision. Babbitt on his role: “It’s one of those things where you have to be ready whenever your number’s called. Coach has been changing up the rotations a lot this year. We don’t really have a set rotation game to game. You’ve got to be ready to play every game, so that’s something I try to do. It’s something I did in Portland, not knowing when your number is going to be called. Rotations are changing and we’re trying to find guys to fit in. I’m going to be ready whenever.”

• Babbitt said his most comfortable position is power forward, where he tries to attack against some of the mismatches that he encounters. Babbitt is a threat from long range and has the ability to keep his defender away from the paint.

• The Pelicans were 22-for-22 from the foul line Wednesday. Brian Roberts, who is 94-for-100 from the charity stripe this season, said the team had begun shooting more free throws during practices and shootarounds recently. “I didn’t realize we didn’t miss a free throw (Wednesday),” Roberts said. “Maybe that’s helped us out in games. We’ve just got to keep shooting them in practice.” New Orleans ranks 11th in the NBA as a team at 76.9 percent.

• On the Portland side, LaMarcus Aldridge (back contusions), Mo Williams (right hip strain) and Joel Freeland (right knee sprain) are all listed as out for tonight’s game. It’s uncertain who will start in Aldridge’s place at power forward.