Josh Hart looks to pass at Chicago in preseason

Pelicans shootaround update: Josh Hart ruled out of Chicago game

by Jim Eichenhofer

Josh Hart had been listed as questionable to play on New Orleans’ Thursday injury report – which in layman’s terms means a 50-50 chance of playing – but Hart was ruled out Friday morning by the team, due to right quadriceps tendinosis. A starter Wednesday vs. Philadelphia, Hart exited the game after only logging 10 minutes against the 76ers.

As a result of Hart’s injury absence in Chicago, Willie Green and the Pelicans will need to determine a starter to replace him in the lineup. Zion Williamson (right foot fracture) is the only other New Orleans player mentioned on this morning’s updated injury list.

Other notes:

New Orleans experienced some roster turnover this offseason while trying to improve its chances of returning to the NBA playoffs, but it also has nine returnees from 2020-21. That means the majority of Pelicans players are former teammates of Chicago point guard Lonzo Ball, including Hart and Brandon Ingram, who played with Ball on two different Western Conference clubs.

New Orleans players don’t seem to be focusing on that aspect of Friday’s interconference matchup in, but third-year center Jaxson Hayes said he’s looking forward to competing against Ball.  An ankle injury prevented Hayes from being in uniform during the Pelicans’ Oct. 8 preseason visit to the Windy City.

“Most definitely,” Hayes said when asked about anticipating facing Ball. “(But) we’re just looking forward to the next game. That’s my dude for sure, so I’m excited to play against him, since I didn’t get to in preseason. But we’re more just focused on the game itself.”

“I’m looking forward to playing against him,” point guard Kira Lewis Jr. said. “He’s a great passer, great defender, knows the game, can shoot the ball. Can push the ball and play off the ball. Great guy, great overall person off the court as well.” ...

The Pelicans discussed the need to play with more composure after they didn’t handle Philadelphia’s second-half surge Wednesday very well. New Orleans appeared to get out of its offense and take some rushed shots in an attempt to turn the momentum, but the 76ers pounced on some of those poor decisions.

“We’ve got to take it upon ourselves to not take bad shots when the other team goes on a run like they did,” Hayes said of the 76ers winning the second half by 20 points. “We need to just run our offense and run our plays.”

“When they make a run, move the ball and get a good offensive possession,” Lewis said. “(We need to) keep playing and fighting through adversity.”


Offensive efficiency rank: 25 (95.9)

Defensive efficiency rank: 3 (89.8)

Net rating: 10 (+6.1)

Streak: Won 1

Go-to guy: You can make the case that since last season’s trade deadline, Chicago has tripled its complement of go-to weapons. Where once Zach LaVine was forced to carry a significant offensive burden for the Bulls, he’s now flanked by center Nikola Vucevic (previously Orlando’s best player) and wing DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio’s No. 1 option in recent years). LaVine remains the Bull defenses must be the most worried about, however, having scored an efficient 34 points in Chicago’s opening win at Detroit, on 11/17 shooting. Vucevic and DeRozan combined to shoot 15/38 from the field in an extremely low-scoring game by modern NBA standards (Chicago prevailed 94-88).

On the rise: Second-year forward Patrick Williams saw his stock rapidly increase in 2020 as draft night approached, resulting in him being picked No. 4 overall. After a solid rookie season, the Florida State product was in jeopardy of missing the start of 2021-22 due to an ankle injury, but he was back in the lineup Wednesday at Detroit. On a Chicago roster that leans a bit toward offensive-minded players, Williams has the potential to be an excellent defender, one reason he was highly coveted after just one season in the ACC.



Wednesday loss vs. Philadelphia

Devonte’ Graham, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas

Notes: New Orleans starters combined to score 80 of the team’s 97 points against the 76ers. … Alexander-Walker’s career averages in 15 NBA starts are 19.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He has shot 48 percent from the field and 41 percent on threes. As a reserve, NAW’s career percentages are 37 from the floor and 32 on treys. Meanwhile, Graham’s career stats are very similar as a starter and a reserve, such as shooting 38 percent from the field in both roles.


Wednesday win at Detroit

Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic

Notes: Chicago has not started a regular season 2-0 since 2016-17. That roster featured Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. … In New Orleans’ trip to Chicago last season, LaVine poured in 46 points and the Bulls established a franchise record by draining 25 three-pointers, but in their Wednesday win at Detroit, they shot just 7/23 from beyond the arc (30 percent). … Prior to being traded by Orlando, Vucevic was the biggest reason the Magic frequently dominated head-to-head meetings against the Pelicans in recent years.

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