Austin Rivers will start a second straight game for Pelicans

by Jim Eichenhofer

WASHINGTON – Since losing starting shooting guard Eric Gordon to a left shoulder injury a week ago in Utah, the New Orleans Pelicans have tried two different starting lineups, but the result was consecutive defeats Tuesday and Friday. Austin Rivers struggled mightily on the offensive end Friday at Atlanta in his debut at first-string shooting guard, going 0-for-8 from the field, but fifth-year head coach Monty Williams wants to keep some on-floor continuity for the Pelicans (7-7). As a result, Rivers will start a second straight night, alongside Jrue Holiday in New Orleans’ backcourt.

“I want to stay with Austin tonight,” Williams said of his decision to maintain a starting five of Rivers, Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Davis and Omer Asik. “Nobody wants to go 0-for-8. The thing he did well that nobody noticed was he played good defense on (Atlanta sharpshooter) Kyle Korver. Kyle didn’t really get going until the fourth quarter. Austin played pretty good defense. We didn’t get any scoring from that position, but we don’t want to jump around from guy to guy, night to night, just because we lose a game.”

Other notes from pregame at the Verizon Center:

  • Williams on John Salmons, who drained three three-pointers Friday in Atlanta: “I’d like to think he’s starting to get a rhythm. He’s getting more comfortable on the floor, getting his legs back. It’s good to see him not only make some shots, but also make smart plays. I thought John played well. He has some smarts that can help our team.”
  • The Pelicans are undefeated in the second game of back-to-backs this season, beating Charlotte, Sacramento and Utah. However, on paper Saturday’s game is the toughest opponent New Orleans has faced in this situation. Washington is 9-5.
  • Williams on some of the keys against the Wizards: “You’ve got to get back and stop John (Wall) in transition. Their bigs are really good, with offensive rebounding and all the things they do. They’re highly skilled. But John and Bradley (Beal) in transition, that’s a key for them.”
  • Patric Young was placed on the active list prior to tip-off. Russ Smith is inactive for Saturday's game.

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