Right from the start, it was clear these Pelicans have a new pace.
At Thursday night’s open scrimmage at The Greenbrier — the first look at new coach Alvin Gentry’s first New Orleans team — the Pelicans played with an 18-second shot clock, indicative of Gentry’s preference for up-tempo basketball.
It wasn’t just how the Pels ran that was noteworthy. It was who did the running.
Point guard Jrue Holiday, who is on a minutes restriction in camp and likely will have game minutes monitored until January, played significant time Thursday, alternating between the Pelicans’ blue and white teams.
Holiday — who is playing without pain in the right leg that caused him to miss 42 games last season — ran the floor, made shots and looked comfortable managing the pick and roll. He sat out Thursday’s morning practice — Holiday is not participating in two-a-day practices — in order to be ready to scrimmage.
“Jrue looks pretty good,” general manager Dell Demps said on the Pelicans.com live stream of the scrimmage. “I thought guys competed, and I thought some of the young guys really were trying to make a mark.”
Maybe nobody made a bigger one than Eric Gordon. Unofficially, he scored 22 points in the first half. Gordon, who finished second in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage last season at 44.8 percent, showed his long-range touch but also comfort in driving to the basket and finishing, a skill he said he looked forward to displaying in Gentry’s fast-paced offense.
“Eric was on fire,” Demps said.
As was Ryan Anderson, who added 16 points in the first half, unofficially.
Besides long-range shooting, the Pelicans showed some versatility. The blue team started with a lineup of Gordon and Tyreke Evans in the backcourt with Anthony Davis, Dante Cunningham and Omer Asik up front, but went small in the second quarter with Davis at center and Cunningham at power forward with Gordon, Holiday and Norris Cole in the backcourt.
Every lineup combination looked to push the pace, and the Pelicans succeeded early, when players’ legs were freshest. The blue and white teams each scored 26 points in the first quarter despite playing with a running clock.
“It was fun to watch,” Demps said. “Hopefully they’ll all be like this.”
Kerr taking time
Golden State coach Steve Kerr will take a leave of absence as he recovers from offseason back surgery, the Warriors announced Thursday, meaning he could miss two games against the Pelicans in the season’s opening week.
Assistant coach Luke Walton will serve as the interim coach for Golden State, which opens the season against the Pelicans on Oct. 27 in Oakland, where the Warriors will receive their NBA championship rings. The two teams play again Oct. 31 in New Orleans.
The Warriors did not announce a timetable for Kerr’s return.
“After the first two days of training camp, I realized I need to take a step back and focus on my rehabilitation in order to be ready for the grind of another NBA season,” Kerr said in a statement. “As I noted last week, my summer was difficult and no fun due to the multiple back surgeries. At this point, I simply want to get healthy and back to my normal daily routine on the court.”
A.D. for free
Davis is giving away a pair of his Nike basketball shoes every day this month, which he’s calling “Antober.”
Davis began the giveaway Thursday. Fans could enter for a chance to win by retweeting a post on his Twitter account, @AntDavis23.