Tyreke Evans, Brian Roberts not expected to play; Pelicans likely to have nine players vs. OKC (4/14/14)

by Jim Eichenhofer

The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to be without both Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts tonight against Oklahoma City, according to head coach Monty Williams. As a result, the Pelicans will likely only have nine players available vs. the Thunder, a head count that includes the newly-signed Melvin Ely.

Williams explained that New Orleans added Ely and waived Greg Stiemsma today partly because with Stiemsma unable to play, the Pelicans needed another body. They did not want to go into the final two regular season games with only eight players and risk an undermanned situation, such as when the Lakers essentially dipped under five healthy players in a game at Cleveland this season.

Evans tried to participate in this morning’s shootaround, but Williams decided to pull the team’s fifth-leading scorer out. Evans has been hampered by a right knee bone bruise.

“I pulled him this morning, because he didn’t look that great,” Williams said. “Just to give him more time to rest. We’ll have nine guys tonight. We’ll try to make the most of it.”

Given the nine-player roster available, Ely will likely get on the floor tonight, his first NBA game action since the 2010-11 season. He had to go through a cram session this morning at Pelicans shootaround in order to learn some of the team’s plays and system.

“We’ve got one practice and two games,” Williams said of the extent of Ely’s duty this week. “It’s not an ideal situation. If we had another big (healthy) or (Stiemsma) was able to play, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation.”