New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic game preview
The New Orleans Pelicans limped into the All-Star break with an injury-riddled lineup, but some of their key players are close to returning.
Jrue Holiday won’t be one of those reinforcements, but New Orleans made a move at the trade deadline to help make up for his absence.
Facing an extended period of time without their starting point guard, the Pelicans look to avoid a season-worst fourth straight loss Friday night when they visit the Orlando Magic.
New Orleans (27-26) lost All-Star Anthony Davis to a shoulder sprain in a 107-72 defeat to Chicago on Feb. 7, and he missed the next two games as the Pelicans fell to Utah and Indiana to enter the break 1 1/2 games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
Davis is listed as day to day along with fellow forward Ryan Anderson, who also missed the last two games with a right elbow strain. Holiday, however, has re-aggravated a lower right leg injury and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
"It’s a setback for him and for us," coach Monty Williams said. "I just feel bad for Jrue."
Holiday has not played since Jan. 12, and the Pelicans have gone 9-7 in his absence. Without Davis, who ranks among the NBA’s best with 24.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, New Orleans has lost five of seven.
"We’ve played without Jrue for a month, so nothing is going to change," Davis said. "We’ve got to come out with a mindset of playing defense, doing it on the defensive end and not worrying so much about offense. Just let it happen. If we do that, these last 29 games will be good to us."
New Orleans acquired point guard Norris Cole from Miami on Thursday and signed Toney Douglas to a second 10-day contract Wednesday. Douglas helped fill Holiday’s void with 14 points and seven assists in a 106-93 loss to the Pacers on Feb. 11.
"He reminds me of Jrue," Davis said. "He gets to the ball, he’s real scrappy. He’s like a little bug running around out there, getting under people’s skin. He can score on offense as well, so we love having Tone on this team."
The Pelicans would love to have Davis and Anderson on the court after they combined for 48 points in a 101-84 win over Orlando (17-39) in the season opener for both teams Oct. 28. Davis also matched a career best with nine blocks.
The Magic enter this matchup after beating New York 89-83 on Feb. 11 to improved to 2-2 under James Borrego, who will remain the interim coach through the end of the season.
Borrego took over after Jacque Vaughn was fired Feb. 5.
"We’re all one family and we’re supporting him," rookie point guard Elfrid Payton told the Magic’s official website. "All of this put him in a tough position. All we’ve got is each other and we don’t want to leave him out to dry."
Nikola Vucevic, who leads Orlando with 19.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, had 28 and 18 against the Knicks as the Magic pulled within seven games of the Heat for the final playoff spot in the East.
"We feel like we can and we feel like there is still time for us to make a run," Vucevic said. "We need to put up a winning streak. Everybody wants to put up a better showing out there because nobody is happy with the record that we have."