The New Orleans Pelicans came away with a big road win against the Miami Heat on Saturday night, particularly with it coming a night after losing to the woeful Orlando Magic.
However, instead of that victory keeping hope alive for the Pelicans as they attempt to land the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff berth, what transpired appears to all but have killed New Orleans’ chances.
The Pelicans came out of it with All-Star Anthony Davis re-injuring his sprained right shoulder and 3-point shooter Ryan Anderson having a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
“An MRI conducted by the team’s medical staff (Sunday) morning confirmed (Davis’) right shoulder sprain,” the Pelicans said in a release. “He is expected to miss one to two weeks.
“Additionally, Ryan Anderson underwent an MRI. … He is expected to miss two to four weeks.”
With both being power forwards, that adds to the Pelicans’ problems going forward. Anderson essentially backs up Davis, but they are different types of players and often play together.
With the extent of those injuries surfacing Sunday, the Pelicans front office was working feverishly to sign a power forward, an NBA source said. And part of that process was weighing whether the signing of the best player possible might have to be for the rest of the season or if they can get someone for two 10-day deals, the source said.
“(The Pelicans) definitely have to do something,” the source said. “They’re looking at forwards who can score in the low post.”
The Pelicans waived forward Shawne Williams on Sunday, putting their roster at 14 players and leaving a spot open. Bringing in help, though, is a must, from a size, effectiveness and sheer numbers standpoint with regard to having big men.
Davis, with the sprained shoulder, and Anderson, with a sprained right elbow, were out injured together the week before the All-Star Game, and that led to the team suffering momentum-sapping losses to the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers. And that’s not counting the setback against the Chicago Bulls in the game in which they were injured. With the break just four days away, however, no big man was signed.
The Pelicans were pushed around by the Jazz’s active big men, who grabbed 21 offensive rebounds. More than that, the absence of Davis and Anderson appeared to cast a pall over the team in the Pacers game in particular. In that game, a 106-93 loss, the Pelicans played as if they had no confidence, certainly no chance of winning. That came after the gut-wrenching loss in which Utah surged past them late behind the scoring of small forward Gordon Hayward.
Point guard Tyreke Evans, playing there in place of injured starter Jrue Holiday, said he didn’t think the losses were because the Pelicans were emotionally down.
“We just got beat down by two teams, especially in the second game (against the Pacers),” he said.
Quincy Pondexter, one of a few Pelicans who have played in the playoffs or been in a playoff chase, said the team has no time to think about who is out injured.
“In this league, it’s always ‘next man up,’” he said. “That’s with every team in the league. Injuries happen all the time, sometimes to your best players. You just have to step up.”
The good news is that starting Monday night against the Toronto Raptors (37-18, second in the Eastern Conference), the Pelicans are at home. The play the Brooklyn Nets (22-31, eighth in the East) on Wednesday and Miami (23-31, seventh) again Friday.
The Pelicans are 17-10 at home and have beaten the likes of the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, the Oklahoma City Thunder (twice), Houston Rockets, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks, nearly all of whom are in the chase for their conference title. However, New Orleans has lost its past four games at the Smoothie King Center.
One of its monumental victories, though, came against the Raptors, on Jan. 18 at Toronto in which Davis was out with a sprained left big toe and Holiday was out with the stress reaction in his lower left leg, an injury that continues to sideline him.
The Raptors, who are playing four road games in five nights, have won 10 of their past 12 games. Their 107.3 points per game scoring on the road leads the NBA.