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NBA Preview: Anthony Davis saga continues as Pelicans travel to face Gasol-less Grizzlies

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New-look Memphis with CJ Miles and Jonas Valunciunas host the Pelicans. Will Gentry sit AD on the second night of a back-to-back?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans’ franchise is fast becoming more dramatic than an episode of Dawson’s Creek.

Like Dawson, the Pelicans’ fanbase caught themselves between a rock and a hard place as they watched Joey suggest she’d be better off with Pacey, only to take her back as Dawson always does.

“You can’t have Joey (Lakers) as your boyfriend and me as your consolation prize! You have to choose!”

Now, back in a Pelicans’ uniform and as dominant as ever, AD throttled Karl-Anthony Towns and the Wolves to the tune of 32 points and nine rebounds in just 25 minutes, sitting the entirety of the fourth quarter.

And things will only get weirder, as AD is expected to sit tonight due to rest purposes. In an agreement with both Davis and the NBA, the Pelicans determined resting AD on back-to-backs to be in their best interests.

Wheeeeee!!! Off we go on another episode of “All My Pelicans!”

With Davis likely to sit, we should expect Jahlil Okafor to start in his place. Okafor was held out due to a lingering left ankle injury that isn’t serious. He was determined a ‘go’ last night before a quick reversal just before tip. E’Twaun Moore will likely rest alongside Anthony Davis due to a variety of ailments, most recently a quad contusion.

So, Jah and Jrue Krewe is back!

Expect a starting lineup of Holiday - Jackson - Miller - Williams and Jah once more. Frazier earned heavy minutes in last night’s victory over the Wolves due to the Pelicans’ first quarter scoring woes, and may earn back his starting place if Jackson continues to struggle. Jackson is still a rookie and a fair amount of ups-and-downs is both common and expected.

Kenrich Williams continues to dazzle in the starting lineup, even drawing praise from Jeff Van Gundy as his ‘new favorite player.’

On the Grizzlies’ side, things sure look different from the last time the Pelicans saw this squad two weeks ago. In Jah’s first start of an eight game streak, he scored 21 points with 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals in 39 minutes in a game his father flew last minute to attend.

He faced off with Hall of Famer Marc Gasol who collected 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists of his own. In his place, the Grizz will trot out Jonas Valunciunas and CJ Miles.

In addition to missing out on Gasol, the Pelicans get the advantage of yet another short-handed squad, as Dillon Brooks (toe), Kyle Anderson (shoulder), Yuta Watanbe (ankle) and Joakim Noah (heel) will all be held out of this contest.

A lot will be riding on the shoulders of Mike Conley, the subject of much trade speculation. Conley fared much better in his last performance against Holiday than an earlier clunker in the season with 22 points, eight assists, four rebounds and four steals, though the Grizzlies went on to fall 85-105.

It will be up to Conley, JV, Miles, Ivan Rabb and Jrue’s big brother Justin in a game Vegas has dubbed a Pelicans’ victory (109.4-104.1 predicted score).

The Grizzlies will hope to slow Gentry’s fast-paced offense with the league’s slowest rate, and eighth best defense (107.1). However, the Grizz should struggle to get theirs, with the NBA’s 29th offense.

The Pelicans are 34-29 lifetime against the Grizzlies and have stolen four of the past five. With 25 games remaining, a victory brings them four games within the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference, currently occupied by the Los Angeles Clippers.

The playoffs are a fantasy at this point, right?

But this season has been anything but predictable.

Let’s geaux, Pels!

Where To Watch

What: New Orleans Pelicans (25-31) at Memphis Grizzlies (22-34)

Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN

When: Saturday, February 9th, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Central

How: FSNO, 99.5 FM WRNO