Pelicans coach Monty Williams confirmed that shooting guard Eric Gordon will participate in a full-scale, contact practice on Sunday with the team.
Gordon has been out since Nov. 22, when his left labrum was torn during the second quarter against the Jazz in Salt Lake City. It will be his first true practice with the team since then, although he has in recent weeks played one-on-one and two-on-two basketball. Gordon chose not to have surgery, and has been rehabilitating and strengthening the shoulder.
Williams said he didn’t know when Gordon would play in a game.
The Pelicans play the Washington Wizards on Monday at Smoothie King Center.
“I’d love to tell you when,” Williams said. “I’d love for him to be out there Monday. But I don’t want to put a time table on a guy, especially when he’s dealing with a joint injury like that.”
Williams said he’ll wait until after practice, speak with Gordon and then start to decide when he can play.
The bigger question may be what to do with Gordon when he is able to play.
“We may start him, we may bring him off the bench,” Williams said. “We’re not sure. A lot of it is going to depend on his ability to recover from the practice and his mindset going into the games.”
When Gordon was injured, he was in the starting back court with point guard Jrue Holiday. Tyreke Evans, a natural guard, was the starting small forward. Evans slid over to Gordon’s spot and has played well, with Luke Babbitt now the small forward.
The team seems to have an improved chemistry with Babbitt, who doesn’t need to take a lot of shots but nonetheless spreads opponents defensively because of his range.
Bringing Gordon off the bench definitely would bolster the second unit. However, Gordon is a better player overall than Babbitt and is a good defensive player.
“You want your best players on the floor,” Williams said. “It’s not like we’ve won 10, 15 games in a row, and we’re like ‘Hey man, let’s not break this rhythm. That’s not the case. We’re in a different spot.
“We’ll deal with that (Sunday), and I’ll have conversations with Eric and the coaching staff and see how we proceed.”
After Washington, the Pelicans play Wednesday at Charlotte and Friday at home against Memphis.
One year later
Ryan Anderson scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, 3-of-6 on 3-point shots in Friday’s rout of the Houston Rockets.
It was a scintillating performance. Anderson was asked if he was motivated by Friday being the day before the one-year anniversary of his career-threatening injury in Boston last Jan. 3, when he and Celtics small forward Gerald Wallace collided.
“I hadn’t even thought about that,” Anderson said, looking surprised. “I think I’ve been through so many things, I’ve just been taking it one day at a time. I didn’t even look at the date.”
He then paused and became reflective.
“Two thousand fourteen was such a testing year for me in so many ways,” he said. “I just thank God so much for my family, for the staff here, the trainers, the coaches, the guys.
“I can’t see it any other way but to see God’s hand in all of this. Because where I am right now, I would have never thought in a million years I’d be standing back here playing this game, having fun.
“I guess that anniversary adds a lot to it. I’m just really grateful to have gotten through it with so many great people.”
A fluky thing
Center Omer Asik said he has looked at video of his inadvertent tip-in into the San Antonio Spurs’ goal on Wednesday, and still doesn’t know exactly how it happened.
Asik was guarding the Spurs’ Tim Duncan, and they both reached at the ball. It occurred at the buzzer and sent the game into overtime, which the Pelicans lost. As the nearest offensive player, Duncan was credited with the tip-in.
“I’ve looked at it three, four times,” Asik said. “I don’t think he touched the ball. I only touched it. We were battling to hit the ball, and I was trying to hit it the other way.
“I just couldn’t get a good hit because I couldn’t jump and didn’t have enough power to hit the ball hard.”
Asik said he has tipped the ball into an opponent’s basket before, but not with the consequences involved against the Spurs.
“It just happened at a bad time,” he said.
Asked if Duncan hit his hand, and that sent the ball into the rim, Asik said, “No.”
Coach Williams said he has gone over the play “too many times,” wondering if he could have done anything different strategically.
“I probably would have told AD to get closer, switched Omer and AD out,” he said. “You can sit there and try to figure out all the stuff you want to. We had a chance to bat the ball away, and that’s all you can ask for.
“You think about it for a while, then you have to move on.”
He said Asik’s execution “was like textbook.”
“We got our hands on the ball,” Williams said. “You couldn’t draw (what happened) up in a million years. I don’t think you’ll ever see that happen again.”