Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: Anthony Davis remains questionable for Portland game, status will be decided later today

by Jim Eichenhofer

Saying his condition has improved since spraining his right ankle in Monday’s win over Detroit and sitting out Wednesday’s loss at Memphis, Anthony Davis remained listed as questionable on the New Orleans injury report Friday morning. Davis said after shootaround in the Ochsner Sports Performance Center that the decision on whether to play against Portland will be made at some point later today.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” Davis said. “We’ll see when that time comes” in terms of whether he’ll be in uniform vs. the Trail Blazers.

Davis vowed that despite some of his NBA injuries occurring on high-flying plays like the one Monday that resulted in his ankle sprain, he will continue to approach the game the same way.

“I’m going to play how I play. If someone throws me a lob, I’m going to try to go get it every time,” the four-time All-Star said. “After that, it’s out of my hands. I can’t control how I come down or where I come down, if I land on someone’s foot or someone pushes me. I’m going to continue to play the way I play.”

Other notes from Friday’s shootaround in Metairie:

Coaches and players try as much as possible to treat every game as equally important, but there is a definitive element of significance to Friday’s game vs. fifth-place Portland (22-19). In a bunched-up Western Conference race, New Orleans (20-20) could find itself anywhere from fifth to ninth in the West by the end of this weekend. The Pelicans and Trail Blazers have split their season series 1-1 so far, but both of those games were in Portland. The Pelicans may need to win both of their two remaining contests vs. the Blazers to gain a tiebreaking edge, because the next step is conference record and NOLA has struggled there (just 10-15 vs. West, but 10-5 vs. East).

“We know what’s at stake,” Davis said of the matchup vs. Portland. “We just go out there and play. We can’t focus on all of that. We just go play basketball and do what we do best.” …

Davis on the West playoff chase: “From fifth all the way to 10th, everybody’s right there. We’re fortunate enough to still be hanging on with the type of basketball we’re playing, which is not where we want to be. At some point, we’ve got to make a run and try to start it tonight.” …

Davis also provided some state-of-the-team comments, with Friday’s game being Game 41 and the exact halfway point of 2017-18: “We’re not where we want to be. We didn’t expect to be .500, but we are. We’ve still got a great chance to make this a great season for us. It starts tonight.” …

New Orleans has had difficulty at times keeping opponents off the offensive glass, as was the case Wednesday when Memphis grabbed 14 offensive boards (six by the hustling JaMychal Green). Davis noted that the Pelicans have to focus on a team mentality to do a better job on the defensive backboards.

“You’ve got to box out. Everyone has to get in the fight, it can’t just be the bigs,” he said. “It’s everybody and a combination of things. It does take effort, knowing which (opponents) like to crash for offensive rebounds. Most of the time you might not be the one who’s getting (the rebound). Just boxing out and trying to put (an opponent’s potential rebounding threat) out of bounds and let someone else get (the rebound).” …

The Pelicans have done a commendable job against Portland’s backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum this season, with Lillard shooting just 34 percent from the field vs. New Orleans and 26 percent on three-pointers. McCollum is at 41 percent from the floor in the two games and 5/11 on treys. 

“The same things we’ve been doing the past two games against them,” Davis said when asked what NOLA must do against the talented Blazers guards. “We’ve played great defense on them and the two guys haven’t really went off. Be up in their airspace and make them take tough shots.”