In Sacramento on Thursday night, the focus will be on DeMarcus Cousins.
In New Orleans, many are more concerned with the health of Anthony Davis.
While Cousins will grab the immediate headlines, facing his former team at 9:30 p.m. in front of a TNT audience and an amped-up Golden 1 Arena, the Pelicans’ future largely rests on Davis’ condition.
The All-NBA forward injured his left knee on Tuesday night following a brief knee-to-knee collision with Mo Harkless during the first quarter of the Pelicans’ 103-93 road loss to the Trail Blazers.
Davis was unable to return and underwent an MRI exam inside the Moda Center. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry confirmed the results came back negative.
Sources confirmed the scan revealed no structural damage on the knee, but Davis is still experiencing soreness. His status is “day-to-day” to return to the floor, and he is being monitored closely by the team’s medical staff.
It’s unclear whether he’ll be able to play Thursday.
Without Davis — who entered Tuesday as the NBA’s third-leading rebounder — the Pelicans struggled to protect the defensive glass allowing the Blazers to carry an 18-2 edge in offensive rebounding. It led to Portland owning a 24-8 advantage in second-chance points, more than enough to make up for the difference on the scoreboard.
“We’ve just got to do a better job, obviously the offensive rebounding and the turnovers hurt us,” coach Alvin Gentry said after Tuesday’s loss. “Between our turnovers and the offensive rebounding, they had 38 extra possessions, and it’s hard to sustain any kind of flow or anything when you have that many turnovers and then you give up that many offensive rebounds.”
This is the first injury to affect Davis this young season. He missed 75 games over the first five years of his career.
Although he logged a career-best 75 games last season, the All-Star’s health problems never truly ceased. He exited 12 different games due to a variety of ailments in 2016-17, unable to return in five of them.
In Davis' absence, Cousins roared to life Tuesday, scoring 39 points on 23 shots. He added 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots all while running the Pelicans’ offense as a de-facto point guard for prolonged stretches.
“Yeah, I mean, I had some wishful thinking that AD would return,” Cousins said Tuesday. “But I had to step up to the plate, and that’s what I tried to do.”