Lonzo Ball takes a shot over Clint Capela

Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: Lonzo Ball to miss second straight game

by Jim Eichenhofer

By necessity, New Orleans relied on a brand-new starting lineup Saturday, with point guard Lonzo Ball sidelined due to a right adductor strain. Following Saturday’s win over Charlotte, Alvin Gentry indicated that the Pelicans likely will stick with that first unit – at least until Ball returns from injury.

The latter won’t happen Monday, because Ball has already been ruled out of the Southwest Division matchup against Houston (6-3). The third-year pro had his best offensive game of 2019-20 against the Rockets on Oct. 26, tallying a season-best 18 points, featuring a season-high four made three-pointers.

With Ball out, the Pelicans shifted JJ Redick to the starting lineup and moved Jrue Holiday over to point guard. Kenrich Williams also was added to the first string and did a stellar all-around job in his first start of the season; Derrick Favors has also returned to the group at center. Brandon Ingram has started every game for New Orleans (2-7), either at small forward or power forward, but with Williams in the mix, Ingram starts at the “three” spot and Williams is the “four.”

Other notes from Monday’s shootaround at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center:

After allowing 61 points in the first half Saturday, the Pelicans gave up just 49 in the second, one key to a victory. Asked what New Orleans needs to do to continue to progress defensively, Favors said, “Just keeping playing hard, keep communicating, have everybody on the same page. We know what we have to and what we’re supposed to do. It’s about going out and doing it.” …

Backup center Jaxson Hayes was not part of the rotation during the first week of the regular season, but the rookie from the University of Texas has gradually become part of the lineup, logging double-digit minutes in four consecutive games. Favors, a 10-year veteran, appreciates the process Hayes is experiencing as the 19-year-old gets adjusted to the NBA.

“Obviously he’s still got a lot of work to do, but he’s coming out and playing with a lot of energy, putting a lot of pressure on the rim (offensively), protecting the rim and being a force in the paint,” Favors said. “Right now he’s doing a great job.

“He’s been active. I know he’s getting called for a lot of fouls, but he’s just (learning to) be in spots early. I went through the same thing when I was a rookie. Sometimes you have to let stuff go, so you don’t pick up that foul. But he’s learning. (The NBA is) a different speed. In college and high school, you’re used to coming over late (on help defense) and still being able to block shots, but in the NBA, guys are faster, more athletic.” …

Hayes on his adjustment to the pros: “I knew these first couple weeks, I’d be learning a lot, picking up on the defensive schemes, just getting used to playing at this level. That’s all I’ve been working on, getting better every day.” …

Hayes has not even logged 24 minutes in any game, yet he still fouled out at Brooklyn and picked up five personals on the same road trip against Oklahoma City.

“Being in a (defensive) stance, being there at the right time, not coming over late and swiping down,” Hayes said of the keys to him staying out of foul difficulty. “Just being in the right place at the right time.”

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