Though Anthony Davis’ status is unclear, the New Orleans Pelicans managed to beat their next opponent last week with their leading scorer sidelined for much of the game.
New Orleans hasn’t won since that day as Anthony has been in and out of action, so it will try to end a three-game skid with another victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night in Salt Lake City.
Davis was forced to leave in the second quarter Wednesday night in Denver because of back spasms, and the Pelicans (32-43) were blown out 137-107 in the opener to a three-game trip. The Nuggets shot a season-high 56.5 percent and were 15 of 27 from 3-point range.
"We set a high bar for how we can play, regardless of who’s on the floor," coach Monty Williams said. "Since I’ve been here, we’ve never given up these type of numbers with our defense. That’s the toughest part for me is allowing a team to score like that."
Williams’ club will next face one of the NBA’s lowest-scoring teams in Utah (23-52), averaging 94.3 points. The Jazz have produced 91.8 per contest during a 2-16 stretch that includes five consecutive defeats.
Utah suffered the third loss in that string last Friday in New Orleans, falling 102-95 despite Davis’ early exit due to a left ankle injury. He sat out a loss at San Antonio the following day and returned to score 22 in a loss to Sacramento on Monday only to leave early Wednesday. The Pelicans have lost their last five games when he hasn’t played.
"We’ve been battling that kind of stuff all year so we’re kind of, I don’t want to say used to it, but we kind of are," guard Brian Roberts said of Davis’ injury issues.
They overcame Davis playing just 3:43 against the Jazz as Tyreke Evans had 22 points and a career-high 15 assists while Anthony Morrow contributed 20 points.
The Pelicans, losers in 11 of 14 on the road, will next face a team that’s dropped six of seven at home. Utah hasn’t played since an 92-83 home loss to New York on Monday.
The Jazz shot 38.8 percent and went 7 1/2 minutes in the second half without a basket.
"We hit that little lull where we just can’t score and that is the difference in the game," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It happened again tonight, and we just have to keep fighting and get better."
Utah has lost the last two matchups with New Orleans but has won four consecutive home games in the series and 12 of the last 14.
Davis had 29 points and 15 rebounds in a 111-105 loss in Salt Lake City on Nov. 13.
Gordon Hayward had 27 points that night and is averaging 21.0 in the last five games, but the Jazz have lost them all while shooting 30.3 percent from 3-point range.