Holiday set to rejoin Pelicans as Blazers visit

NEW ORLEANS — The Portland Trail Blazers are not faring well against teams with winning records so far this season.

That won't be an issue when they face the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night in the Smoothie King Center.

The Blazers are 7-6 overall, but just 1-5 against teams with winning records after a 126-109 defeat against the Rockets (7-5) on Thursday night in Houston.

The Pelicans (2-10) have the worst record in the NBA.

“It's still early,” Portland All-Star point guard Damian Lillard told the Oregonian. “I think we've got a lot of time to shore up things we haven't done well so far. I'm not happy with some of the things that have happened, but we're in a good spot.”

Portland's only victory against a team that has a winning record came on opening night against a short-handed Utah Jazz team that was missing injured starters Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors.

In their five other games against winning opponents, the Blazers lost to the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers (twice), the Chicago Bulls and the Rockets by an average of 20.8 points.

“I'm just happy that we can say that we're learning through a lot of things right now,” Lillard said. “We're not doing well, but (we're) still finding ways to win games.”

That hasn't been the case for New Orleans, but help is on the way.

Starting point guard Jrue Holiday is expected to make his season debut against Portland. Holiday had been away from the team to be with his wife, Lauren, who last month gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Jrue, and recently underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor.

Lauren Holiday is a former U.S. women's national team soccer star.

Mother and daughter are doing well and stayed at home in North Carolina as Holiday rejoined his teammates and coaches, who were very supportive during his absence.

“Anything we needed, they were there for us,” Holiday said Thursday. “It was unbelievable. I'm so excited. Going through a hard time, my teammates were always there for me. My teammates and the Pelicans were always there. To come back and fight for them, like they supported me, I'm happy to do it.”

The Pelicans are happy to have their point guard back, and they are looking forward to other happy returns.

“It will probably take (Holiday) a couple games to get back (to form),” All-Star forward Anthony Davis told the team's official website, “but as long as he's on the floor.”

New Orleans hopes to have Davis back on the floor after he sat out an 89-82 loss at Orlando on Wednesday because of a bruised right quad. Davis practiced Thursday and is listed as questionable for the game against the Blazers.

Terrence Jones started in Davis' place against the Magic and scored a career-high 26 points. He also fell one rebound short of his second consecutive double-double.

“We tried to make sure we still had that flow as if the best big in the league was still playing with us,” Jones told the team's official website. “Without him, it's very tough to keep that normal flow of offense.”

Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans returned to practice earlier this week and could return soon from offseason knee surgery.