Jason Smith playing from the bench in return to Pelicans

Pelicans center Jason Smith has now played two games for New Orleans since returning from his left shoulder injury, but Smith’s action has been from the bench, not the starting lineup. Smith was the team’s starting center for the first 24 games of this season.

It may be some time before the team’s most tenured veteran reclaims his spot in the starting five.

"I want to see him play in several games when he’s healthy," coach Monty Williams said. "It’s hard to come in and out, battling injury like he’s done.

Williams likes what he’s seen out of newcomer Alexis Ajinca, who just joined the team December 20 from France. Ajinca scored a career high 17 points versus the Indiana Pacers on the Pelicans’ most recent road trip. The 7’2" center also led the team in rebounding with 11 boards versus Portland on December 21 in his team debut.  

Williams said he may also rotate Greg Stiemsma into the starting lineup, now that the third-year pro has had some time to condition since missing 19 games with a sprained MCL.

Smith missed 4 games while allowing his injured shoulder to heal. The Pelicans went 2-2 during that time frame.

Since his return, Smith contributed 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 personal fouls and 1 assist in his 21 minute effort versus the Heat in Miami.

Wednesday at home against the Washington Wizards, Smith played 23 minutes and turned in 7 points, 3 rebounds, 3 personal fouls and 2 assists.