The New Orleans Pelicans could have a lot of help when they begin a three-game homestand Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons.
All-Star power forward Anthony Davis has been listed as questionable, meaning he could play. Davis has missed the past five games after re-injuring his sprained right shoulder on Feb. 21 during the first quarter at Miami. He was expected to miss one to two weeks, the team said. That was 11 days ago.
Without Davis, the Pelicans won five consecutive games, including the game in which he was injured. The streak ended at Dallas on Monday night, the second of back-to-back games that started Sunday in Denver.
“We are definitely looking forward to (being at) home,” guard Eric Gordon said. “We are a good home team, and it’s going to be good to play at home, for sure.”
The Pelicans (32-28) had a three-game homestand last week, and the results were outstanding. New Orleans knocked off Eastern Conference playoff contenders Toronto, Brooklyn and Miami in a five-day span at the Smoothie King Center.
Davis’ return and the return home comes with the Pelicans one game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder in the race for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
After the Pelicans play the Pistons (23-36) on Wednesday night, the Pelicans play another back-to-back against Boston on Friday and fellow Southwest Division foe Memphis on Saturday. The Pelicans are 20-10 at home, including 9-3 against East teams.
Although backup center Alexis Ajinca has played well in the absence of Davis and forward Ryan Anderson (sprained right knee), Davis would be a huge boost against the Pistons in particular. Detroit boasts the top rebounding duo in the NBA: center Andre Drummond and power forward Greg Monroe, a former Helen Cox High School standout. As a tandem, they average 23.4 per game.
Davis and Omer Asik are third in the NBA as a pair, averaging 20.3 rebounds.
Drummond (6-feet-11, 280 pounds) is second in the league in rebounding at 12.9 per game, and Monroe (6-11, 250) averages 10.5. However, in his past five games, Monroe has averaged 19.2 points and 11.6 rebounds, getting at least 20 points in three games.
Led by Davis’ 27 points, the Pelicans beat the Pistons 105-94 on Jan. 14 during a puzzling five-game Eastern road swing. After waiving headache power forward Josh Smith, Detroit had won five in a row before New Orleans came to town.
With Smith gone, the Pistons are a different team than their record indicates. They have gone 18-13 since he was waived on Dec. 22, after starting the season 5-23.
The Pelicans’ win was part of a head-scratching stretch in which they won at Detroit and Toronto, which has the East’s second-best record, but lost at struggling Boston, Philadelphia and New York.
With Davis, Anderson and point guard Jrue Holiday out, the Pelicans won with intense play, gritty defense when needed, and balanced scoring built on excellent ball movement.
Gordon has been a big part of that, driving to the basket and facilitating when needed. However, much of his value has been in filling a big 3-point void. Since a big win at Oklahoma City on Feb. 6, Gordon has shot 52.1 percent (37-of-71), along the way increasing his season percentage to 45.3, second in the NBA among eligible players.
“I’ve always been a pretty good 3-point shooter,” Gordon said. “The thing is, we’re playing together well as a team, and I’m getting some open looks.”
He hit a 3-pointer that brought the Pelicans to 10 points of the lead in the fourth quarter against the Mavericks. In the gutsy win at Denver, he sank one with six minutes left and gave New Orleans the lead for good at 78-75. He hit another one at the 4:16 mark that nudged the lead to 85-80.
The Pelicans signed combo guard Elliot Williams to a 10-day contract, according to an NBA source. The Pelicans also waived former LSU power forward Justin Hamilton, who did not appear in any game with the team after being obtained in the Feb. 19 trade that brought point guard Norris Cole to the team. Williams, 6-5, played 25 games with the NBA Development League Santa Cruz Warriors. He was the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. He played with the Philadelphia 76ers, and this season, with the Utah Jazz, averaging 5.3 points and 0.9 assists in 96 games. Williams, who played in college at Memphis, is a good defender who offensively keeps his teammates involved, the source said.