OKLAHOMA CITY — Coach Alvin Gentry’s plan for an extended look at his Rajon Rondo-led Pelicans’ offense lasted less than a quarter.
Rondo logged just seven minutes in New Orleans’ 102-91 preseason loss to Oklahoma City on Friday night, scoring six points. He didn’t return after his first substitution and was listed as questionable with a groin injury
The rest of Gentry’s plan never came together, either.
Gentry said he intended to play his starters for more than 20 minutes because of the shortened preseason schedule, but guard Jrue Holiday was the only one to accomplish that. He was also the lone starter who saw time during the second half.
The Pelicans play the Grizzlies in their final preseason game next week and again in the season opener. Gentry doesn’t plan to use his starters in that last exhibition, leaving Sunday's game with the Bulls as the last opportunity for the coach to experiment. Four Pelicans hit the 30-minute mark in Tuesday’s game against the Bulls.
“I don’t think that they will expose a lot of the stuff that they’re going to do, and we won’t either,” Gentry said of the preseason finale with Memphis.
Before leaving this game, Rondo served as the team’s primary ball-handler, while Holiday, who filled that role last season, worked off the ball.
With Rondo ailing, Ian Clark and E’Twaun Moore were the first guards on the floor when Holiday took a seat. Forward DeMarcus Cousins also handled the ball on occasion in the first half. He finished with 14 points on the night.
Forward Anthony Davis compiled 14 points in just less than 17 minutes. Fellow big man Cheick Diallo was held out with a sprained ankle, though Gentry said he would have played if the game had counted.
Holiday finished with 11 points and six assists in 25 minutes. The Pelicans struggled to find their range on the deep ball, shooting just 23 percent from behind the arc in the first half.
Clark had 11 points off the bench for the Pelicans, and forward Darius Miller added eight.
Newly acquired Paul George led the way for the Thunder with 25 points. Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook tallied nine first-quarter points in his return after getting an injection in his knee.
Gentry said before the game that matching up with versatile defenders like George and wing Andre Roberson would be a nice test for his team.
“You see what can work against them,” Gentry said. “I think everybody’s in the experimental stage right now.”
With short nights for his starters on Friday, Gentry has had even less time to fiddle with his lineup than he expected before Sunday's game in Chicago.
“You have to find rotations,” Gentry said. “You’ve got to find really the flow of your offense and, even defensively what you can do right now that you like and you feel like you can hang your hat on.”