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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans hopeful for Anthony Davis return against Sacramento Kings

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Davis likely set to return from an abductor injury after missing three games.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans will take on the Sacramento Kings at the Smoothie King Center Friday night, coming off of a 123-114 win over the Denver Nuggets.

In their first meeting this season, a rocky start and unfavorable halftime deficit was reversed as DeMarcus Cousin took control down the stretch. Ultimately, Cousins finished the night with a respectable 41 points and 23 rebounds in his return to the Golden 1 Center.

It was a performance of necessity for Cousins due to the absence of Anthony Davis to, and we may be facing a mirror of that this Friday. Davis recently suffered a left adductor strain against the Jazz and has been evaluated day-to-day since. However, the Pelicans are hopeful Davis may be able to return for this matchup.

“I think [Davis} is progressing like we anticipated. There’s a great hope we can get him back for the Sacramento game,” Alvin Gentry said on his 99.5 WRNO radio show Thursday.

As Davis’ return is seemingly upon us, this is where New Orleans will start to come together. With a favorable stretch of upcoming games, the Pelicans are optimistic they can compete with anyone.

“When our team plays the right way, I like we can play with the best of them. We can beat the best of them,” Cousins said. “It’s on us to find that consistency on a nightly basis. That’s something we’ve struggled with this season and we’re still trying to find our way with that. Once we find that, we can play with the best.”

As for the Kings, their last meeting with New Orleans was an attempt to showcase depth. Seven players reached double-digits for Sacramento, including four from the bench. Even so, New Orleans was able to prevent any explosive nights. Rookie guard De’Aaron Fox was the team’s leading scorer with just 14 points.

In the Kings latest outing, Zach Randolph recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. This was a game that came down to the wire on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein missed that game with a lower back strain and is expected to be out again on Friday against the Pelicans. As a result, we will see more of two-way turned starter, center Jakarr Sampson. Sampson made his impact in the starting lineup against Cleveland by providing a career-high 16 rebounds on the night.

“He works extremely hard and is a great competitor,” Cavaliers forward LeBron James said. ”I’m happy Sacramento is giving him an opportunity.”

We’ll see how Sampson and the Sacramento Kings fare against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, December 8th at the Smoothie King Center. Tip-off if set for 7 p.m. CT.

Geaux Pels!