Tyreke Evans is willing to play through pain, sometimes at the cost of his effectiveness.
That was the case during the Pelicans’ 112-111 loss to the Houston Rockets on Monday night, which prompted coach Alvin Gentry to sit the starting point guard midway through the third quarter and leave him on the bench for the remainder of the game.
Despite battling an ailing right knee which already forced him to miss 19 games, Evans logged 16 minutes on Monday. He made just two of his six shot attempts and New Orleans was 23 points worse than the Rockets during his time on the floor.
Still, Gentry insisted sidelining Evans wasn’t to send a message about his productivity, but to shield him from further injury.
“It’s not a message, no,” Gentry said. “Listen, Tyreke is great and I love him. He will play through any injury that there is. I felt like his knee was bothering a bit so that’s why I played the other guys. It’s not a message, it’s not anything. That guy has a heart as big as this building and he gives you everything that he has, so there’s no message to be sent to him other than the fact I try to protect him as much as I can.
“Even when he’s hurt, he’s not going to say he’s hurt. So, as a coach, if I see him laboring it’s up to me to make sure he’s not risking more than he should. That’s why I took him out.”
It was the just the latest in a series of nagging problems on Evans’ right knee, which started with a preseason arthroscopic surgery during training camp and has never been fully healed. The latest episode came just hours before tip-off.
“My knee was bothering me before the game warming up,” Evans said. “I got it drained a couple of minutes before the game and I tried to go. It was just bothering me, and it was just a sharp pain in there. I don’t know if it was tendinitis or what, but I’ll probably get an MRI and see what it is.”
It was at least the third game this month Evans had to have his knee drained in the pregame locker room. Two weeks ago, Gentry began limiting Evans’ playing time to six-minute stretches to minimize the strain placed on him.
“At one point (after surgery, my knee) was good, but I guess I put so much stress on it after surgery that I started to get that sharp pain again,” Evans said. “We’ll see what it is.”
Evans said he “definitely” wanted to finish Monday’s game, but when trainers informed Gentry what the guard was enduring, it prompted him to make a move and keep Evans on the bench. The Pelicans didn’t practice on Tuesday and it’s uncertain if Evans will be available for Thursday’s home contest against the Sacramento Kings.
“If it ain’t broke, I’ll be trying to go out there and play,” Evans said. “That’s just me wanting to win and help my team and try to make the playoffs. That’s why I got it drained before the game. It’s just a matter of fact of me taking care of it.”
Anthony Davis suffered a concussion on Monday when he collided in mid-air with Evans, whose elbow struck Davis in the temple.
The Pelicans’ superstar forward didn’t return to game, and on Tuesday, he postponed an event for AD’s Flight Academy with the Special Olympics to an unspecified later date.
Gentry was unsure how many games Davis would have to miss, but the NBA’s concussion protocol lays out a detailed map of what a player must be able do to return to action which includes a riding a stationary bike, jogging, performing agility work and non-contact drills.
However, there’s no specific timetable he’s forced to miss.
“Once a player is diagnosed with a concussion he is then held out of all activity until he is symptom-free at rest,” the NBA official regulations state, “and until he has no appreciable difference from his baseline neurological exam and his baseline score on the computerized cognitive assessment test.”
In a five-day span swingman Bryce DeJean-Jones went from playing with Idaho in the D-League to subbing in fourth-quarter minutes of a one-point NBA game.
The rookie is on a 10-day contract and said he relished the opportunity to show off his abilities in a critical situation. He logged six minutes, hauling in four rebounds and missing his only shot attempt.
“You just kind of prepare for anything when you’re on a 10-day,” DeJean-Jones said. “It’s an unfortunate situation with those two guys going out, but I just have to be focused and ready for my name to be called any moment.”