Well, the run of good injury luck for the New Orleans Pelicans had to end at some point, right?
According to Pelicans PR, Lonzo Ball will sit out tonight’s contest against the Los Angeles Clippers due to bilateral knee tendinopathy, or in layman’s terms, jumper’s knee. His injury is considered day-to-day, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez.
In addition, Eric Bledsoe is listed as questionable (right eye irritation) and JJ Redick is probable (right hamstring tightness).
If the Pelicans find themselves without both usual starting guards — the team’s two primary point guards, it’s seems logical that Kira Lewis Jr. gets pressed into heavy duty, likely even drawing the start.
Please note that Lewis is running on the same unit as Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Steven Adams in the video footage below from the most recent practice.
If the 13th overall pick from the 2020 NBA Draft does indeed draw the first professional start of his career, Lewis can expect to have as rude of a welcome to the league as possible, likely lining up against the peskiest of irritants in Patrick Beverley.
Just ask Lonzo Ball about his very first regular season game in the NBA.
Obviously, the biggest takeaway from whether New Orleans is missing one guard or up to three, Stan Van Gundy is going to have to rely on the reserves — a scary proposition considering their weak production to date. The bench’s average contributions of 26.7 points and 4.9 assists per game both rank dead last in the Association, as does their 37.4 field goal percentage.
Hopefully, Kira, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Sindarius Thornwell (the fifth member running with the starters in the video above) can rise to the occasion if/when they’re on the floor because New Orleans is going to need a special effort to beat the Clippers. Many have predicted they’re likely to finish second in the West, behind only their crosstown rivals in the Lakers.
With four losses to date, the Clippers have not played their best ball of the season; however, outside of a laughable 51-point loss to the Mavericks, they’ve been in position to win every other game.
L.A. has relied on the league’s third most efficient offense (114.4 ORTG), led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The two superstars have combined for nearly 50 points a game and they’re both shooting lights out from the field, especially from three-point range. Throw in solid contributions from newly acquired key role players in Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka and Luke Kennard, this Pelicans defense will be tested like never before this season.
To be honest, I’m half expecting for Sindarius Thornwell to draw the start in place of Lonzo Ball — someone has to guard PG13 and Van Gundy may opt to keep Josh Hart in his usual role off the bench — and if Bledsoe isn’t a go, too, hello Kira?
Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson will in all probability have to be special to snap New Orleans’ 3-game losing streak, but they’re going to need a lot of help. Call me crazy, but I think Wednesday’s matchup will be competitive.
The Pelicans have had four days to think about the disappointing home stand and Stan Van Gundy has received the gift of time in the practice lab with the guys thanks to the postponement of Monday’s contest against the Mavericks. Don’t forget that the New Orleans head coach is known to be one of the best in preparing his troops for battle.
This season is still young so enough hopes and dreams remain alive for the Pelicans to pull off the upset. Hey, we’re due for a good surprise.
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (4-5) at Los Angeles Clippers (7-4)
When: January 13, 9:00 p.m. Central
Where to watch: FSNO, ESPN
Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM