The finish line for recuperation is finally in sight.
After weeks of uncertainty regarding the array of injuries in the Pelicans’ backcourt, some timelines have emerged as New Orleans hopes to regain its roster.
On Friday, Tyreke Evans (right knee) said he hoped to be back in approximately one week. Then, before Sunday’s 122-116 win over the Phoenix Suns, coach Alvin Gentry said Norris Cole (high ankle sprain) is likely to return in the first two weeks of December.
“I think in the early part of the next month, I think he will be playing, unless there’s a setback or something,” Gentry said.
Cole agreed with Gentry, and said it was a “reasonable goal” to return the floor in the first half of December. But Cole said he wants to make sure he’s completely healthy before he gets out on the floor. And since he’s never suffered a high ankle sprain before, he said he isn’t entirely certain of when that will come.
“Whenever it’s right, that’s when it’s right and when I’m going to lace it up,” Cole said. “I want to get back out there as soon as possible, obviously. I’m optimistic about getting back out there. I’m looking forward to it.”
Ryan Anderson has had a hot hand before, but it’s at its most scalding this week.
His 29 points helped him easily eclipse the most prolific three-game streak of his career, scoring 89 points in three games. In 2011-12, he dropped 69 points in three games, but had torched that high-water mark in the third quarter Sunday.
Anderson made five of seven second-quarter shots, including a trio of 3-pointers to jump-start his evening, then finished with a flourish, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
“We let him get going, probably,” Suns’ coach Jeff Hornacek said. “As much as we talked about him, he was coming off of two 30-point games. He didn’t quite get that, but he hurt us.”
Despite starting each of the past two games, Omer Asik’s presence has lacked impact.
Asik failed to score in 12 minutes during the Pelicans’ 104-90 win over San Antonio on Friday, and he did the same in 14 minutes Sunday. Both coaches opted to play lineups without a center for the majority of the second half, which meant the Suns were forced to bench dynamic 7-footer Tyson Chandler.
“I’m a competitor,” Chandler said. “I wanted to be out there helping my team.”
But with the Pelicans playing a small lineup made up of Anthony Davis and Anderson in the frontcourt, the Suns had no choice but to use more versatile defenders who can patrol the perimeter as well as the paint.
“I don’t know how you guard it,” Anderson said. “If you put smalls on us, we will take you down low and have a rebounding advantage. It’s tough. It’s why every year I’ve been here, we finish games together. We know how to play off of each other.”
Gentry said there will still be opportunities, mostly against vertically inclined opponents, when Asik will be needed in critical situations.
“There are going to be times where he is an integral part of what we are doing, and there are going be other matchup situations where it makes it pretty difficult for him,” Gentry said. “I’m not going to ask him to guard, like in Atlanta, where (Al) Horford and (Paul) Millsap are out on the floor guys. It’s not fair of us to ask Omer to guard players like that.”
Jrue Holiday logged minutes in the second quarter for the first time since the season’s opening week. Holiday’s minutes have been limited to the first quarter, which previously allowed him play a regular allotment in the second half. … Phoenix jumped out on an 18-4 run midway through the second quarter, which allowed it to pull a double-digit deficit into a halftime advantage. During the second quarter spree, Phoenix made 13 consecutive free-throw attempts and was 4-of-5 on 3-pointers. … Eric Bledsoe connected on a 4-point play early in the fourth quarter, getting fouled by Holiday as he converted from the perimeter.