MINNEAPOLIS — Constant warnings from the team’s athletic training staff prompted New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry to designate one person on the team’s bench to track Jrue Holiday’s minutes.
The coach is trying to abide the trainer’s wishes, but nights like Monday’s 116-102 win at Minnesota make it difficult to limit the energizing point guard.
Holiday came off the bench to score 27 points with nine assists, six rebounds and three steals for New Orleans, which snapped a four-game losing streak and won a road game for the first time since Jan. 13 at Sacramento.
“The trainers hear remarks from me that I’m sure they don’t really appreciate,” Gentry said. “It’s hard to take a guy out of the game when he’s going great and he’s got 20 points and made seven out of his last eight shots. That becomes really hard to do, but for us we have to be smart enough to understand long term what that means.”
Holiday had 20 points as the Pelicans’ bench outscored the Timberwolves bench 30-8 in the decisive first half. Ryan Anderson added 26 points in a reserve role for New Orleans.
Anthony Davis added 27 points and eight rebounds for the Pelicans.
New Orleans has resorted to playing 23 different starting lineups this season because of injuries. Tyreke Evans (right knee) missed his seventh-straight game on Monday with Norris Cole and rookie Bryce Dejean-Jones starting in the backcourt.
Gentry has kept Holiday coming off the bench and the second unit has flourished. The Pelicans entered play Monday with the league’s highest scoring average from reserves.
“Jrue and I have both made a commitment to be a spark and make a difference,” Anderson said of the two coming off the bench. “We both are very confident players and both have had experience starting and coming off the bench. So we know we need to bring a consistent effort and energy off the bench. He makes the game easier for me, I make it easier for him and I think we bounce off each other well.”
Holiday has started 14 games this season and averaged 11.1 points and 4.5 assists per game as New Orleans went 4-10 in those games. As a reserve, Holiday has averaged 16.4 points, 5.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game, and the team is 15-16.
“As long as I finish the game,” Holiday said.
In an effort to keep Holiday healthy and productive, the team is trying to limit his minutes after he played just 74 games the previous two seasons.
Gentry said he had to assign an assistant to notify the head coach when Holiday needed to be rested; going as far as allowing the assistant to pull Holiday without permission because Gentry said he had a tough time making the decision himself.
“I think at times he leaves me in there because he knows that we’ll figure out a way to work around it, which I appreciate him that he’s always looking out for me,” Holiday said. “But I don’t really think about it. Obviously when I got it going, he tries to leave me in as long as possible and I appreciate that.”
Holiday entered midway through the first period on Monday with Dejean-Jones dealing with foul trouble. Holiday scored eight points in his first four minutes on the court and finished the first half with 20 as the Pelicans led by as many as 23 in the half.
New Orleans had averaged just 93.0 points during its four-game losing streak and had shot 12-of-62 from 3-point range in the past three games. The Pelicans shot 10-of-24 from behind the arc Monday.
Anderson, who had been 3-of-18 on 3-pointers in the past four games, was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. He scored 24 points in the second half as New Orleans led by as many as 28 in their sixth road win of the season (6-20).