Tyreke Evans’ right knee doesn’t need to be 100 percent to play.
But the New Orleans Pelicans’ starting point guard didn’t return to the lineup during Monday’s 110-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
It marked a three-game absence for Evans, who failed to gain enough strength in his ailing right knee to get back onto the floor.
His absence was noticeable on the scoreboard.
The Pelicans won the first two games without Evans, topping Sacramento and Brooklyn with rapid tempo and prolific shooting from the perimeter. Entering Monday, New Orleans had scored at least 100 points in six consecutive games, three of which Evans failed to log more than 16 minutes.
The loss, and 95-point output, dropped the Pelicans to 0-21 when failing to reach the 100-point plateau.
Evans’ right knee has forced him to miss 22 games, including the first 17 after arthroscopic surgery, but coach Alvin Gentry insisted the issue shouldn’t keep him out long-term.
“We are just trying to be cautious,” he said.
Jrue Holiday was the Pelicans’ most productive guard for the past three weeks, but he hit a wall Monday night.
He shot 1-of-14 from the field, losing a pair of turnovers in the first three quarters. It was the worst shooting night of his career since an 0-for-9 outing Feb. 7, 2011, when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“You have to keep going and all of the coaches kept telling me to keep going and that my shot would fall,” Holiday said. “I guess being in the league and you have nights like that.”
Grit, grind, shoot
Memphis didn’t just use its typical arsenal of rugged low-post play to dominate the Pelicans in the second half. It also connected on 9-of-16 3-pointers, a remarkable 56.3 percent.
It’s the second highest percentage any Pelicans opponent shot from beyond the arc this season, barely missing the Warriors’ 56.7 percent 3-point shooting night Oct. 31.
“We thought we would be able to slow them down a bit because no one has shot 60 percent against us this year,” Gentry said. “We thought maybe they would come back to the pack a bit. But you have to give them credit. They made a lot of tough shots.”
Locking down Dejean-Jones
Bryce Dejean-Jones officially signed his second 10-day contract Monday, ensuring the starting guard will be with the Pelicans for their next six games. This deal expires one day before the All-Star break, meaning he could miss New Orleans’ game at Oklahoma City on Feb. 11.
Sources told The Advocate that the Pelicans are engaged in talks to lock Dejean-Jones down for the rest of season, since they can’t offer him another 10-day deal.