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Pelicans vs Thunder preview and game thread: Pelicans should especially fear Russell Westbrook

Will New Orleans near full strength help against OKC this time round?

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (10-20) host the Oklahoma City Thunder (16-12) tonight at 7pm CST in the Smoothie King Center. Watch the game on Fox Sports New Orleans or Fox Sports Oklahoma, or listen to Sean Kelley describe all the action on WRNO 99.5 FM.

For the first time since the 2015 postseason, the Pelicans will have 14 healthy players and thus force Alvin Gentry to make one of his healthy players inactive. Only Quincy Pondexter remains on the shelf due to injury as Tyreke Evans is ready to go after taking the night off in Philadelphia.

Victor Oladipo is not scheduled to play for the Thunder, but I'm a little more worried about the prospect of the referees giving Russell Westbrook the benefit of a lot of calls. In OKC's last game, a loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the NBA ruled he should have been the recipient of a few more favorable whistles in the final two minutes of the contest. Welp, the last thing the Pelicans need is to face is a triple-double threat playing with no holds barred.

Anthony Davis did his part last time, scoring 37 points and notching 15 boards, but most of his fellow teammates struggled. One player who didn't was Buddy Hield from off the bench, pouring in 16 points and 4 threes in just 15 minutes of run. Incidentally, that game served as a spring board of sorts as Hield would up in the starting lineup the following game against the Grizzlies, and he hasn't looked back since.

Will Buddy Hield have another nice outing, especially if Anthony Morrow winds up guarding him? Can Jrue Holiday finally break the shackles of a string of sub-standard performances? Or, can a typically quiet regular rotation piece like Solomon Hill or Dante Cunningham do something out of the ordinary?

With Davis likely canceling out Westbrook, a few of the other Pelicans must rise to the occasion if New Orleans wants to win two games in a row for the first time since before Thanksgiving. Considering we're four days away from Christmas, that's an awful long time to wait for any kind of winning streak. #Gulp

Geaux Pelicans!

2016-17 NBA Regular Season

10-20 (6-9 Home)
16-12 (5-6 Away)
December 21, 2016, 7:00 PM Central
Smoothie King Center - New Orleans, LA
WRNO 99.5 FM
Projected Starters
Jrue Holiday PG Russell Westbrook
Buddy Hield SG Anthony Morrow
Solomon Hill SF Andre Roberson
Anthony Davis PF Domantas Sabonis
Alexis Ajinca C Steven Adams
Advanced Stats (2016-17 season) via NBA Stats
100.24 (10th) Pace 100.81 (6th)
100.6 (27th) ORtg 103.1 (19th)
104.2 (15th) DRtg 103.1 (11th)
-3.7 (23rd) Net Rating +0.0 (12th)

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