Jrue Holiday finding his rhythm as a reserve _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans' Jrue Holiday shoots against Phoenix's P.J. Tucker on Nov. 22 in the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

The minutes were about the same.

To Jrue Holiday, something felt different.

The Pelicans point guard came off the bench for the first time this season in Friday night’s 114-108 overtime win against the Cavaliers, and though his restricted minutes didn’t significantly increase, Holiday liked his rhythm as a reserve.

“(The minutes) weren’t as choppy,” Holiday said. “I got to play them in a longer spurt, especially the first half. It felt good. It felt good to be out there and play and kind of play with the team that I played with last year during the playoffs. It was fun.”

Holiday had 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 25 minutes. That was more than his 21.7 minutes-per-game average, but his playing time got a boost from an overtime period in which he played all five minutes.

Holiday’s minutes are limited, probably until January, as he recovers from a stress reaction in his lower right leg.

Over the course of Friday’s game, Holiday played fewer minutes than he averages in three of four quarters. But he played a little more than average in the second quarter – six minutes compared to a 4.9 minute average in second quarters this season — and played nine straight minutes bridging the first and second quarters.

Holiday probably should get used to second-unit status. The Pelicans are likely to stay with a starting backcourt of Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve got to try to find — now that we’ve got guys back and we don’t have the preseason or training camp to try to figure out the rotations — we just got to try to go with something and stick there,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “So we’re going to try to stick with this lineup at least for the next eight, 10 games to kind of see if we can get consistency that way.”

Comeback trail

Though he’s played in 12 of the Pelicans’ past 14 games, Omer Asik still is working to find his footing after missing five of their first six.

On Friday, he appeared to make progress in that regard.

Asik — who has missed a total of seven games this season with a calf injury and a stomach illness — played a season-high 25 minutes against the Cavaliers, tying a season high with six points and grabbing five rebounds in what Gentry called “definitely” his best game of the season.

“I’m just trying to get my rhythm back,” Asik said. “As I play a little bit more, I feel more confident. Last night, I think I played a little bit better, but I’m still far away from where I want to be.”

Dante’s inferno

LeBron James scored 37 points in Cleveland’s loss to the Pelicans on Friday. But Dante Cunningham did his part in making James work for them.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, James was 3-of-17 for seven points when being guarded by Cunningham. He scored 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting against all other Pelicans defenders.

Cunningham dismissed that as “a fan stat.”

“I can’t sit and say, ‘He only had seven points on me’ when there were times Omer switched and did a great job on him, but at the same time we’ve got to help Omer or vice versa,” Cunningham said. “(Teammates) were helping me the whole game, so that’s why, on me, I guess it was only seven points.”