PHOENIX — The New Orleans Pelicans’ three-game road swing started on a rough note as forward Anthony Davis rolled his left ankle early in the team’s morning shoot-around, hours before the start of Thursday night’s game at the Phoenix Suns.
The Pelicans later ruled Davis out of Thursday’s game with a sprained left ankle, the first of three straight against Western Conference opponents with winning records.
The road swing continues Friday at Golden State (54-13), the top seed in the West, and then Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles against the Clippers (44-25), currently fifth in the West and tied with Dallas.
The Pelicans (37-30) headed into Thursday’s action a half-game behind Oklahoma City (38-30) in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Coach Monty Williams said the decision to hold Davis out of Thursday’s game had nothing to do with it being the first of two in two nights. He added that it was still too early to say whether Davis would play Friday.
“No, if he could play, he would play,” he said. “There would be no holding back. We’re not in that position. I know a lot of teams around the league do that, but we don’t use that practice. When guys can play, they play.”
Davis came out of the morning’s shoot-around mostly under his own power about 15 minutes into a practice that lasted about an hour.
“We were just having our typical pregame drills or shoot-around drills, and he rolled his ankle,” Williams said. “He may have stepped on (Omer Asik’s) leg or stepped on his shoe or something like that, but he just rolled it and it’s just an unfortunate incident.”
Williams said his squad is battle-tested in terms of injuries and that under no circumstances was his squad looking past Phoenix, which at 35-33 also is in the race for the final West playoff spot.
“We’ve had all kinds of stuff happen,” he said. “The guys know how to deal with those situations. We’re a pretty tough-minded team when it comes to those situations. We have guys who want to play. Our guys who are on the bench, they want to play and we like that.”
The Pelicans are still dealing with the loss of forward Ryan Anderson, the team’s second-leading scorer (14.6 points), and guard Jrue Holiday.
Anderson walked off the practice court Thursday in a knee brace. He has missed the past 11 games after suffering a sprained MCL on Feb. 21 vs. Miami when he stepped on the foot of Heat guard Mario Chalmers. He was initially expected to miss two to four weeks. A Pelicans spokesman said there was no news on Anderson.
Holiday is out with a stress reaction to his lower right leg.
Davis had missed seven games since first injuring his right shoulder in a game at Chicago on Feb. 7 and then reaggravating the shoulder in Miami on Feb. 21.
The two-time All-Star sat out two games after the Chicago game, two home losses to Utah and Indiana.
Davis sat out five games after the Miami game. The Pelicans won four of those five.
Davis has rebounded well, winning the Western Conference Player of the Week for games from March 9-15.