The New Orleans Pelicans had plenty of momentum, winning seven of nine and climbing within a game of eighth place in the Western Conference. The surge was capped by a growth-spurring, confidence-inducing, last-second victory at Oklahoma City on Friday.
But the Pelicans now face the possibility of having to play the final two games before the All-Star break without star power forward Anthony Davis.
Davis was diagnosed Sunday with a sprained right shoulder, and he is listed as day-to-day. He is questionable to play in Monday’s game against Utah at the Smoothie King Center; the Pelicans (27-24) also play Indiana at home Wednesday.
Davis was injured after falling hard to the court after dunking during the second quarter of Saturday’s home loss to Chicago.
“He’s a bit sore right now,” coach Monty Williams said after the game. “I thought he got fouled on that play. ... Sometimes he does a lot of that stuff to himself, just playing really hard. He couldn’t move his arm the way he needs to, so we had to take him out.”
After playing back-to-back games, the Pelicans didn’t practice Sunday. The team issued a statement updating his status.
Davis left Saturday with his arm in a sling. It’s the fourth time he has been injured this season, although the most time he has missed was three January games with a left toe sprain. He missed one game in December with a chest contusion, and he missed another in late January with a left groin strain.
The Pelicans’ record with Davis sidelined this season is 2-3.
His teammates said they have to forge on if he’s sidelined again, particularly since they’re in a tight race for the West’s final playoff spot.
“We’ve played without him,” small forward Dante Cunningham said. “We just have to make the adjustment.”
The Pelicans are 2-0 this season against Utah (18-33), but Davis was in the lineup each time. They won 106-94 in Salt Lake City on Nov. 22 — the game when guard Eric Gordon tore his left labrum — and 119-111 on Dec. 16 at the Smoothie King Center.
The Pelicans have lost their past two home games, including Saturday’s 107-72 rout at the hands of Chicago in which they clearly had no energy after the emotional road win the night before. Saturday’s 72 points were a season low.
Having played the Los Angeles Clippers, the Atlanta Hawks and the Thunder in consecutive games, and then the Bulls (32-20) — who lead the Central Division — Williams said his team has endured a tough part of the schedule. The Jazz know all about that. Utah capped a stretch of four games in five nights with a 102-90 home victory against Sacramento on Saturday, snapping a three-game losing streak.
In the two games against Utah, Davis averaged 37.0 points, including a career-high 43 in the first meeting. He shot 73.7 percent (28-of-38) and added 11.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
Williams suggested the Pelicans have to put Saturday’s loss behind them as an aberration. He pointed to forward Ryan Anderson and Gordon combining to shoot 2-of-21, a sure sign of tired legs. Even Davis was 4-of-11 before leaving late in the second quarter; he’s shooting 55.4 percent this season, best among the league’s top 88 scorers.
“We’ve been really good at bouncing back, so we hopefully can do the same thing Monday,” Williams said. “You have to sweep this one under the rug and challenge yourself to get back to where we were before we played OKC at OKC.”