Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon will play vs. Portland (3/14/14)

by Jim Eichenhofer

News and updates from the Smoothie King Center prior to Friday’s Western Conference game between Portland and New Orleans:

• After missing Wednesday’s game vs. Memphis due to illness, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon will be back in the lineup against Portland tonight. “They’re feeling better,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said. “They’re certainly not 100 percent, but they’ll both be back in the lineup tonight.”

• Williams mentioned multiple times during his pregame availability that rookie center Jeff Withey will likely get more minutes down the stretch of the regular season. He’s been behind Alexis Ajinca and Greg Stiemsma in the rotation at center. “Jeff is going to get more minutes,” Williams said. “He’s been so active. Once his (basketball) IQ (in the NBA) matches his activity, he’s going to be more productive.”

• LaMarcus Aldridge will miss his sixth game of the season out of 66. Dorell Wright has started in place of Aldridge in each of the five previous instances. Backup point guard Mo Williams also is out for Portland. Earl Watson has received more playing time as a result. “They’ll probably try to spread the floor more,” Williams said of the Trail Blazers not having Aldridge. “Damian (Lillard) will be aggressive – and he already is – and other guys will take on a bigger role. They typically go down to the low block (on offense). I’m sure Robin (Lopez) will pick up some post-ups.”

• Williams on defending Lillard: “We always try to mix up our defenses. One thing you may do is put some size on him, some length. Eric (Gordon) could guard him some. We just have to figure it out as we go.”

• What’s at stake for the Trail Blazers (42-23): Williams noted that the media has called Portland “desperate” to get a win, because after a current four-game losing streak, the Blazers are losing ground in the standings at the worst possible time. Fifth-place Portland is only 1.5 games ahead of sixth-place Golden State.

• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (26-38): New Orleans hopes to get back on the winning track after its three-game win streak was snapped in frustrating fashion Wednesday vs. Memphis. The Pelicans also have a chance to go up 2-1 in the season series with the Blazers.