Alvin Gentry says there was no malicious intent to Kendrick Perkins’ flagrant foul _lowres

New Orleans Pelicans center Kendrick Perkins, left, scuffles with Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee, second from right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, March 18, 2016. Portland won 117-112. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)

Mason Plumlee called it “a dirty play,” and Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry understands where he’s coming from.

But Gentry on Saturday insisted there was no malicious intent in the flagrant foul New Orleans center Kendrick Perkins committed Friday night on Plumlee’s Portland teammate, Damian Lillard.

With 7:35 to play in the fourth quarter of the Blazers’ win at the Smoothie King Center, Lillard drove around Perkins, who fouled him with a forearm to the neck. Perkins was whistled for a category 2 flagrant foul and ejected from the game.

Plumlee, who barked at Perkins after the play, told The Oregonian after the game the that he thought the foul was dirty. Gentry said on Friday that it “looks a lot worse than it was,” and on Saturday his thoughts hadn’t changed.

Perkins “tried to grab (Lillard) and wrap him up, and obviously when he grabbed him, his momentum took him forward, so (Perkins’) hand slid up around the neck,” Gentry said after Saturday’s practice.

Still, Gentry understood why the Blazers would take offense.

“I’m sure if it was reversed we would feel the same way that they feel,” Gentry said. “I would very protective of Damian if he was on our team, too, and all the other guys would, too. So I understand their reaction to the whole thing, yeah.”

Time’s up

Orlando Johnson’s 10-day contract with the Pelicans expired on Saturday, and the team is not signing him to another, a spokesman said.

Johnson appeared in five games for New Orleans, averaging two points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 10.9 minutes per game. He shot 23.5 percent from the floor and 20 percent from 3-point range.

Injury update

The Pelicans on Saturday upgraded center Alexis Ajinca from out to questionable for Sunday’s game against the Clippers. Ajinca has missed the past eight games with a fractured sternum.

Norris Cole remains questionable with a lower back injury.