Pelicans hope to get most out of Davis against Kings
NEW ORLEANS — For the New Orleans Pelicans, there are now two A.D.s with interconnected meanings: Anthony Davis and After DeMarcus (Cousins).
On Tuesday night, the 27-22 Pelicans will try to utilize Davis more effectively to overcome the season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins when they host the 15-34 Sacramento Kings at the Smoothie King Center.
On Sunday, in the first game A.D. (After DeMarcus ruptured his left Achilles tendon in a 115-113 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night), the Pelicans built a 20-point lead over the LA Clippers but faded in the second half and lost 112-103.
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After playing 41 minutes against the Clippers — scoring 25 points and grabbing 17 rebounds — Davis admitted he was a magnet for opposing defenders who no longer had to concern themselves with guarding the second of the Twin Towers.
Coach Alvin Gentry got testy in the post-game press conference, when questioned about Davis’ usage, particularly since Cousins sustained his non-contact injury after having logged 51 minutes in a double-overtime victory over Chicago a few days earlier.
Gentry reacted sharply to the question of Davis’ usage, which doesn’t figure to diminish any time soon now that Cousins is on the shelf.
“If he’s tired, he tells me,” Gentry said. “I would like to play him 28 minutes, but that’s not feasible if we want an opportunity to win. That’s just the way it is. If I don’t play him 41 minutes and we lose by 10, are you going to ask me why he isn’t in the game more? I don’t understand that. We’re a team trying to win games, and we’ve got to play guys that can help us win games.”
At practice on Monday, Davis said the Pelicans are having to make a mid-season adjustment after finally showing signs of incorporating the Twin Towers lineup to great effect. Now, essentially, it’s training camp all over, and there are only 33 games left with the playoffs on the line.
“We’re trying to figure out when teams come off the pick-and-roll and double team, us, what do we do?” Davis said. “It’s just something we’ve got to figure out.”
One of the great benefits of playing with both Davis and Cousins on the court was the spacing that allowed many open 3-point looks for the Pelicans’ perimeter players. But against the Clippers, the Pelicans had plenty of open looks and missed 17 of 19 3-pointers in the second half.
“We went on a bad drought in the third quarter and missed 11 straight threes,” said forward Dante Cunningham. “Those are definitely shots we take and make.”
The Pelicans and Kings have split their first two games, with each team winning on the other’s home court. Sacramento is coming off a 113-98 loss in San Antonio on Sunday, a game in which Dave Joerger had to be taken to the locker room in the first quarter after falling light-headed to a knee in the first quarter.
Assistant coach Elston Turner took over the coaching duties. Joerger reportedly was OK after the incident. A determination had not yet not been as of Monday night whether he will coach against New Orleans.
“Sometimes when you stand up real fast from a sitting position, you get a little bit lightheaded, and that’s what happened,” Turner said. “We took precautionary measures. He came back, saw the doctor and our trainers and took the rest of the night off.”
The Kings could be without center Willie Cauley-Stein, whom suffered a deep bone bruise to the right knee Saturday night against Miami.