Jrue Holiday started his third consecutive game Tuesday night, but won’t play Wednesday night’s game at Oklahoma City. —
The Pelicans’ starting point guard — who is being used cautiously while he recovers from a stress reaction in his right leg that caused him to miss 90 games over the previous two years — is still on a 25 –minute restriction and can’t play games on consecutive days.
“We’ll play him (Tuesday),” coach Alvin Gentry said. “Most of the time if it’s a home game, and we’re going to be on a back-to-back we’ll play him. I’m not 100 percent married to that, but pretty much that is what we’ll do.”
Holiday logged 21 minutes and scored 19 points in a100-81 loss to Toronto, then played 24 minutes but scored just seven points during the 95-87 loss to the New York Knicks, before opening up hot against the Nuggets, converting three shots in the first five minutes.
During those stints, Gentry has utilized Holiday sparingly in the first half, in order to play him normal rotation minutes in the second half.
Considering New Orleans lost six consecutive second halves entering Tuesday night, Holiday’s presence didn’t provide the necessary assistance.
“I’m just trying to stay in rhythm as much as I can,” Holiday said Sunday. “We just have to finish out games. It’s a game of runs and when we make a run we have to hit it. We just need to learn to sustain things better and learn to win.”
The Pelicans played against Denver without starting center Omer Asik, who was sidelined due to a stomach illness.
It’s the sixth game he’s missed this season, mostly due to straining his right calf during preseason practice.
Without him and without Anthony Davis (who left in the first quarter because of a shoulder injury), the Pelicans were helpless at defending the rim, allowing 16 points in the paint during the game’s first 10 minutes.
Asik averaged 1.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game.
He was replaced in the starting lineup by hybrid forward Dante Cunningham, who knocked down five of his first seven shots to help buoy the Pelicans offensively with their diminutive lineup.
Sticking the ball
Despite being known for his tempo, Gentry isn’t as concerned with pace as he is about the Pelicans lack of ball movement.
New Orleans averaged just 15.5 assists in its previous two games, but picked up the passing early on versus Denver, logging 12 assists in the first 22 minutes of the game and 14 in the first half.
Gentry admitted it was a point of emphasis this week after some ugly passing performances.
“I think when we swing the basketball and everybody gets a touch, they feel like they’re involved,” Gentry said. “We’ve just had some possessions where it just hasn’t made sense and we’ve shot the basketball and we’ve had two guys on the baseline and the floor’s not balanced. That’s created some of the tough situations for us.”
Following Sunday’s loss several players pinned some of the ball movement problems on trying to do too much when things slow down offensively, which includes isolation plays with the hopes of scoring one-on-one, rather than looking for a better shot.
“We have gotten a lot of good shots and missed them this season,” Holiday said. “Sometimes, we do try to take it upon ourselves when we’re missing and they’re going down and scoring. But I think we do get some good shots.”
The French national anthem played before Tuesday’s game, preceded by a moment of silence, honoring victims of last Friday’s tragedy in Paris. ... Once Davis was injured, the Pelicans had only four active players on its roster taller than 6-foot-4. ... During one point in the second quarter, Eric Gordon scored 11 of 13 points for New Orleans. ... Alexis Ajinca was whistled for three fouls in his first four minutes on the floor.