ATLANTA — It appears the return of three injured New Orleans Pelicans is happening faster than some expected.
In Monday’s 93-87 loss to Atlanta, the Pelicans got more minutes and more points from the trio that missed more than half the season a year ago. Forward Ryan Anderson and guards Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday were much more active than they were just two days ago in the preseason opener against Miami.
Gordon looked much more at ease than he did against the Heat, when he scored just four points — all on free throws — in his 10 minutes of play.
That was his first competition in 197 days.
He returned Monday to Atlanta, where he injured his left knee March 21, and contributed 12 points, four assists and three rebounds in 25 minutes.
“Eric competed tonight,” coach Monty Williams said. “He was in the lane.
“He didn’t hit as many shots as you would like.”
Holliday, who suffered a stress fracture of his right tibia Jan. 8, played 25 minutes and tallied 13 points, three rebounds and four assists.
He did not score in 10 minutes against the Heat.
“I thought Jrue came back in and hit shots,” Williams said. “He was good. “
Anderson, trying to come back from a herniated disc that sidelined him on Jan. 3, had 14 points, was 4-of-8 on 3-pointers, and had six rebounds in 25 minutes.
He played 14 minutes and scored 12 against Miami.
Center Anthony Davis, who played just 11 minutes in the opener, played 25 minutes against the Hawks and came up with 11 points — two on a thunderous dunk — as well as six rebounds, two steals and a block.
Davis took a face plant at midcourt just minutes into the second half and walked off the court with a bloody nose. He returned a few minutes later and showed no ill effects from the spill.
“A.D.’s energy was good tonight,” Williams said.
The Pelicans fought back from a 21-point deficit, trailing 52-31 with 4:39 left in the second period, to make a game of it. They cut the lead to three points when Patric Young’s basket but never got any closer.
“We just didn’t hit enough shots,” Williams said “We didn’t get enough juice from our starters.”
The Pelicans play their first preseason “home” game Wednesday in Jacksonville, Florida, against Washington.