Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday won’t play in Monday night’s pivotal game at Minnesota _lowres

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives against New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

MINNEAPOLIS — Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, who returned last week after being sidelined 41 games with a stress reaction in his right leg, will not play for New Orleans on Monday night at Minnesota, coach Monty Williams said. Toney Douglas will take Holiday’s minutes.

“We’re going to be smart with his leg and make sure he’s ready for the next game and ready for the rest of his career,” Williams said. “As important as tonight is, his healthy is even more important.”

Williams acknowledged that the Pelicans’ “best team is with Jrue on the floor,” but he cited the second game of a back-to-back and not wanting to jeopardize the progress Holiday has made as reasons to hold him out against the Timberwolves.

The Pelicans are battling Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. New Orleans can clinch a berth with a win Monday combined with an OKC loss against Portland.