New Orleans (23-31, 17-9 since Dec. 18) was able to rack up 138 points and pick up a key win Tuesday over Portland without leading scorer Brandon Ingram, but the Pelicans hope they won’t have to overcome the All-Star forward’s injury absence much longer, particularly with more important games on the schedule. Ingram is listed as questionable to play in Thursday’s home matchup vs. Oklahoma City due to a right ankle sprain, saying this morning that his status likely will be determined when tip-off approaches.
“It’s feeling pretty good,” Ingram said of his ankle after this morning’s shootaround. “It’s still a little sore. I’m still doing the right treatments, getting me prepared for each and every day.”
On whether he’d play vs. the Thunder, the 22-year-old said, “I’m not sure. I’ll go through my treatment and probably make my decision at the Smoothie King Center (after working out on the floor).”
Other notes from shootaround:
New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Boston and the LA Clippers are the only teams who have not completed their pre-All-Star break schedule. Unfortunately for the four Pelicans player participants in All-Star weekend, that means they’ll need to travel to Chicago immediately after tonight’s game vs. OKC. Practice and media sessions for the Rising Stars game will take place Friday morning in the Windy City.
For rookie guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, he’ll have the unique experience of playing against cousin Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tonight, then be a teammate on the World Team in the Rising Stars event.
“Playing this game right now (against the Thunder), it’s hard for it to sink in,” Alexander-Walker said of being part of NBA All-Star. “But I think once we get this game in and I’m in Chicago, it will finally hit me.” …
Oklahoma City’s guards have been very effective in crunch time all season, but also in three wins vs. New Orleans. Dennis Schroder’s 19.7 points per game vs. the Pelicans leads the Thunder in the season series, while Gilgeous-Alexander is No. 3 at 16.7. Meanwhile, Chris Paul has shot 51.9 percent from the field.
Asked what New Orleans will focus on to try to break through for its first win of 2019-20 vs. OKC, Alexander-Walker said, “sticking to the game plan. I think the last three times we played them, we didn’t play a full 48 minutes. I think that hurt us. Staying the course, sticking to what we know the game plan is will help and allow us to finish out the game. Every time it’s been one possession here and there.”
Thursday will be the first time the Pelicans have Zion Williamson available against OKC’s frontcourt; Ingram missed a lengthy portion of the Nov. 2 game due to injury. …
Ingram on Josh Hart, who has been a catalyst for the Pelicans lately, either off the bench or in a starting role: “He’s been really effective for our team. Me being around him for three years, that’s been his identity, getting all the loose balls, rebounding, shooting from three and in transition, pushing it hard to get to the rim. He’s been really good at whatever he does. He’s pretty effective every time he goes out there.” …
Ingram on Williamson: “I kind of forget he’s a rookie sometimes, when he goes out and plays as hard as he can, rebounding and being dominant under the rim. He has the athleticism that a lot of guys at his size can’t do. He’s a once-in-a-generation type of talent. It’s special to have him on our team.”