Anthony Davis doubtful to play at Memphis on Wednesday due to right ankle injury
MEMPHIS – Approaching the halfway mark of the 82-game schedule, New Orleans is at or near .500 in numerous categories, including overall record (20-19), home record (10-9) and road record (10-10). The Pelicans somewhat surprisingly have also hovered slightly above the break-even mark when their most accomplished player is sidelined, going 3-2 when Anthony Davis does not play due to injury.
New Orleans appears likely to be tested again under those circumstances Wednesday, because the four-time All-Star is being listed as doubtful to play against Memphis in FedEx Forum (7 p.m., Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM). Alvin Gentry indicated after Tuesday’s practice that the prospects of Davis suiting up against the Grizzlies are not good.
“There’s probably a good chance that he won’t play,” said Gentry, whose team’s next game after Wednesday comes Friday at home vs. Portland. “We’ll just have to see from there (what Davis’ status will be in upcoming games).”
Davis underwent X-rays on a right ankle sprain in the second half during Monday’s 112-109 win over Detroit. The results came back negative, but he sat out the rest of the tight contest, having already tallied 30 points and 10 rebounds in just 27 minutes of playing time.
“I think it’s just sore,” Gentry said of the nature of the injury. “I don’t think there’s structurally anything wrong with it.”
New Orleans’ three victories without Davis this season came against Portland, Denver and Sacramento, with the win vs. the Trail Blazers representing arguably the best Pelicans road triumph of the campaign. Even in the two defeats, New Orleans was very competitive against two of the NBA’s premier squads, losing by 10 points to Golden State and seven at Houston.
In Monday’s three-point win over Detroit, as well as an October come-from-behind victory at Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins has taken over New Orleans’ offense in crunch time. Cousins scored 15 fourth-quarter points against the Pistons, helping the Pelicans stave off a rally. Detroit immediately went on a run when Davis headed to the locker room, but Cousins shouldered the load late, repeatedly scoring against Detroit center Andre Drummond in one-on-one situations.
“DeMarcus really did a good job of picking up his game, because AD was going great,” Gentry said. “Obviously a lot of the shots and plays were going to (Davis in the first three quarters). When (Davis) went out, DeMarcus knew that he had to pick it up.”
Partly due to Cousins’ presence when Davis is out, along with the emergence of Pelicans such as E’Twaun Moore, New Orleans has had much more of a fighting chance with Davis injured this season. New Orleans was just 6-15 during Davis DNPs in ’15-16, then 3-4 last season (a combined 9-19).
The Pelicans have had more difficulty adjusting when Davis leaves mid-game unexpectedly due to injury, but they were able to pick up a needed win Monday by outplaying the Pistons in the final minutes.
“We’ve done it, and we’ve won games without him,” Gentry said of Davis being sidelined. “That gives the team confidence right there. Obviously we would rather have him in the game, but if he goes out, I think it’s great that our guys can maintain what we were trying to do, and even lose a lead, execute at the end of the game and be able to win a close game.”