Hawks face banged-up Pelicans on quick turnaround
The banged-up New Orleans Pelicans will try to get back on the winning track with a visit to Atlanta on Sunday evening.
The Pelicans had their three-game winning streak snapped on Friday night in a 127-104 home loss to Toronto, with a makeshift lineup that was stripped of many of its top players.
Atlanta is coming of a 114-112 loss to Brooklyn on Saturday night. The Hawks have dropped three straight.
On Thursday, the Pelicans lost Jrue Holiday, the team's second-leading scorer, because of a lower-abdominal strain. Holiday, who averages 21.2 points and 7.7 assists, is expected to miss at least a week.
On Friday, the team announced that swing man E'Twaun Moore had reinjured his left quad and would be out of the lineup for at least a week. Moore averages 11.9 points off the bench.
The club sat center Anthony Davis on Friday because of back spasms and lost forward Jahlil Okafor at halftime with a sprained left ankle. The statuses of both big men for Sunday's game has not been determined.
That could partially explain why the Pelicans were smashed Friday night by the Raptors, being outscored 63-43 in the second half of the 23-point loss.
"I still think that we competed, and to me, that's the most important thing. I don't really care who we put out there," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "We just ran into a situation in the middle of the third quarter where they had guys to go to, and we missed a couple of layups, missed a couple of open 3s and that's where they got the separation."
Frank Jackson filled part of the void by scoring 20 points. It was the second 20-point game for the rookie from Duke, who hit his career high on Feb. 2 with 25.
Atlanta has been playing without center Dewayne Dedmon, who has missed the last two games with a right knee contusion. The Hawks signed forward Tyler Zeller to a 10-day contract, and the six-year veteran played seven scoreless minutes on Saturday in his Atlanta debut.
Atlanta forward John Collins was stronger on Saturday, in his second game back from missing three games with the flu. Collins played 29 minutes and had 33 points and 20 rebounds.
"John just gives us a dimension that is always tough to guard with him presenting at the rim and the pick-and-rolls, his ability to step out and shoot the 3s, and the bigs stay back in their coverage," Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce said. "Just the amount of attention he draws with pick-and-rolls, it provides 3-point opportunities for some of the other guys, Kevin (Huerter) and Kent (Bazemore) and Taurean (Prince) out on the permeter."
Perhaps Bazemore can get back on track against the Pelicans. He averaged 21 points against New Orleans a year ago. Bazemore is averaging 12.8 points and shooting 42.1 percent from the floor. He's made just 15 of 63 shots over the last six games.
This is the first meeting of the season between the two clubs. They'll meet again in New Orleans on March 26. The two clubs split last year's series, and each team has won five of their last 10 meetings.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 9, 2019