There’s been a lot to like all season about the Jrue Holiday-Anthony Davis combination.
On Monday, the Pelicans got to look at it from the start of a game for the first time since Dec. 1. Holiday started against the Sacramento Kings at the Smoothie King Center, ending a streak of 41 straight games off the bench.
The question is how long he’ll remain in the starting five.
“We’ll just try to take a look at it and see how it works with him as a starter,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said before the game. “If we like it, we’ll continue it. And if we don’t, we’ll go back to what we were doing.”
Eric Gordon’s fractured ring finger — the second time this season he’s suffered that injury — necessitated the change to Holiday’s status. Holiday said he’s “cool with it” if Gentry keeps him in the starting lineup.
“With the lack of bodies, I feel like we kind of have to,” Holiday said. “Whatever it is we need to win.”
The move could spark pick-and-roll production for the Pelicans. Holiday and Davis have “a great chemistry” in pick and roll, Davis said, and Holiday has assisted on a team-high 108 of Davis’ 492 field goals this season.
“I think they’ve been really good (together) in that Jrue is also a very good scorer,” Gentry said. “He can get the ball just about wherever he wants to, so it keeps pressure on their big guys, and Anthony is a great midrange shooter and he’s also a great roller. So it gives you weapons that you really need.”
Holiday, who was on a tight minutes restriction to open the season, still is limited to about 34 minutes per game, Gentry said, and the Pelicans will have to “manage it a little bit differently” with Holiday starting.
On Monday, Holiday started, then went to the bench at the 6:26 mark of the first quarter, returning with 28.2 seconds to play in the first. He checked out again at the 8:48 mark of the second quarter and returned to play the final 5:30 of the first half. He had eight points and four assists on 4-of-10 shooting in the half.
But Gentry wants to take a look at a lineup with Holiday starting in case it’s the best bet for the Pelicans going forward — including into next season.
“I think we will look at situational things that we’ve talked about some,” Gentry said. “Our goal is still to win every game, but I think we also got to be realistic in that there’s things for the future that we’ve got to also plan for.”
Big Blue reunion
Davis squared off on Monday against the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, who like Davis was a star at Kentucky. And Davis admitted there’s something special about their matchups.
At this year’s All-Star Game, Davis said Cousins has been like “a big brother” in showing him the ropes in the NBA. These days, Davis can play the same role for younger former Wildcats.
Entering Monday’s game, Davis had averaged 30 points and 8.7 rebounds in four games this season against Cousins, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel, all former centers at Kentucky.
“I get fired up to play against any Kentucky alum,” Davis said. “Of course there’s going to be trash talking. It’s always fun, especially when you beat them.”