Anthony Davis was flat on his back, grabbing his right ankle and wincing in pain. And now the New Orleans Pelicans can only wonder if their best player will be ready for opening night.
Davis sprained his ankle Wednesday in a preseason game against the Houston Rockets in Beijing, part of the NBA Global Games. The All-Star center was unable to play when last season ended because of shoulder and knee problems, and this season is presumably going to begin with him facing yet another injury issue.
''It's very frustrating,'' Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. ''It's very frustrating in that we can't seem to get a rhythm or we can't seem to put the team together because there's always someone missing.''
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Davis has never played in more than 68 games in a regular season for New Orleans, missing an average of 17 contests in each of his first four seasons. He needed surgery on his left knee to fix a problem in March.
Davis was scheduled for more evaluation on his ankle Thursday, when the team is back in New Orleans. The Pelicans' 13-hour flight home from Beijing was scheduled to land around 2:40 a.m. Eastern time.
New Orleans used 42 different starting lineups in 82 games last season – only one of those lineups for more than six games. And this season is starting with an array of injury concerns for the Pelicans, even before Davis got hurt when he was going against Houston center Nene during the first quarter.
Guard E'Twaun Moore (right heel contusion) got hurt Wednesday as well. Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter didn't even make the trip to China while dealing with the aftermath of knee surgeries, and starting point guard Jrue Holiday is out indefinitely to be with his wife, former U.S. soccer star Lauren Holiday – who was diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant with the couple's first child.
The Holiday's daughter was born last month, and Lauren Holiday is expected to have surgery to remove the benign tumor later this fall.
There were four preseason games Wednesday night – San Antonio at Orlando, Milwaukee facing Indiana, Denver meeting Minnesota and Phoenix traveling to Utah.
ROCKETS 116, PELICANS 104
BEIJING – James Harden scored 14 points and handed out eight assists for Houston, which remained unbeaten in four preseason games and swept two matchups with New Orleans on this trip to China.
Bobby Brown led the Rockets with 18 points. Quinn Cook had 20 points for New Orleans, on 7 for 9 shooting.
ROCKETS: Houston led by 25 points at halftime. … Rookie Chinanu Onuaku had two points, notable that they came on free throws he shot underhanded – something he did last season in college at Louisville as well.
PELICANS: Langston Galloway had 16 points for New Orleans. … First-round pick Buddy Hield missed all four of his shots and went scoreless. … The Pelicans had 27 assists on 36 field goals.
UP NEXT: Houston (4-0) plays host to Memphis on Saturday. New Orleans (1-3) goes to Atlanta on Tuesday.