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Game 50: Can Jrue Holiday and Jahlil Okafor carry the Pelicans past the short-handed Spurs?

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In a battle of injury ravaged division rivals, New Orleans will seek to reverse their recent losing fortunes by besting a team they’ve beaten in seven of the last nine meetings at home.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans get a break from the scheduling gods as they face another team ravaged by injury in their southwestern rival, the San Antonio Spurs.

Down DeMar DeRozan, Davis Bertans, Dejountae Murray, and Lonnie Walker IV, the Pelicans could not be facing a better opportunity at home, desperate for a win after losing five of their previous six games.

“We haven’t been in this situation all season, being this shorthanded,” Patty Mills told Tom Osborne of San Antonio Express News. “We’ll see how it goes.”

But the Spurs know what’s at stake and have fared well with the sum of their parts when facing injury under head coach Greg Popovich in the past. Plus, they know just how critical this string of games before All-Star break will be:

“We have to make a push,” Patty Mills went on. “Nobody is going to wait for us. Nobody cares that we have been struggling. The whole league has been struggling. You just want to be the first team to get out of it.”

Injuries or not, the New Orleans Pelicans have to start winning if there is to be any chance of saving their 2018/19 playoff chances. At five games below .500, and without all three of their primary big men, the odds are against them, and yet the Pelicans received plenty of fight from their short-handed squad on Thursday night, specifically from Jahlil Okafor.

With Davis, Mirotic and Randle out again, the burden again falls on Okafor to continue performing, this time against the Pelicans’ southwest rival in a critical opportunity against another depleted squad.

The Pelicans have beaten the San Antonio Spurs three straight times at home, and in seven of the past nine.

Injuries:

Spurs: Dejounte Murray (torn ACL — out), DeMar DeRozan (knee — out), Davis Bertans (personal reasons — out)

Pelicans: Anthony Davis (finger — out), Nikola Mirotic (calf — out), Julius Randle (ankle — out)

San Antonio New Orleans
Pace: 97.6 (25th) Pace: 102.0 (6th)
ORtg: 113.7 (7th) ORtg: 114.3 (4th)
DRtg: 111.2 (19th) DRtg: 112.6 (24th)
Projected Starters:
San Antonio New Orleans
PG - Derrick White PG - Elfrid Payton
SG - Bryn Forbes SG - Jrue Holiday
SF - Rudy Gay F - E'Twaun Moore
F - Pau Gasol PF - Darius Miller
C - LaMarcus Aldridge C - Jahlil Okafor

For more on this matchup, please read Oleh Kosel’s in-depth preview, and Chris Conner’s Outsider’s Perspective!

For words from the enemy, glimpse our friend’s at Pounding the Rock’s preview here.

Geaux Pels!

Where To Watch

What: New Orleans Pelicans (22-27) vs San Antonio Spurs (27-22)

Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA

When: Saturday, January 26, 2018, 5:00 p.m. Central

How: FSNO, 99.5 FM WRNO