PHOENIX – After sitting out the past six games, it’s possible Lonzo Ball will return to the court Thursday at Phoenix, but the point guard is listed as questionable to play against the Suns, with a right adductor strain. New Orleans (5-9) would welcome the chance to see its injury list be reduced again, as was the case Tuesday vs. Portland, when Brandon Ingram and Frank Jackson were back in action.
“We just want all healthy players,” fifth-year head coach Alvin Gentry said after Thursday’s morning shootaround in Arizona. “Obviously (Ball) had played well in a couple games, and I think he was beginning to understand exactly what we wanted from him. (Being out recently was) a step backwards, but I think he’ll get back into the swing of things pretty quickly.”
Ball’s potential return could be beneficial for Pelicans guards who’ve taken on a greater ballhandling responsibility, including Jrue Holiday.
“Running the lane,” Holiday said of one aspect he can concentrate on more while playing next to Ball, who participated in Thursday’s shootaround. “He’s a lot faster than me, so the pace will probably go up. The way he slashes to the basket and can push in transition will help me out, but help everybody out. When you have a guard that pushes it like that, it makes everyone run even faster.”
Other notes from shootaround at Talking Stick Resort Arena:
Asked whether Ingram looked back to himself Tuesday vs. Portland, after sitting out the previous four games, Gentry responded, “Almost, but I thought he was a little rusty. He missed some shots he’s more than capable of making. Playing in a game, getting timing back, it’s what you have to do. I think he’ll be better tonight than he was the other night, because (while) getting back into the flow of the game, he’ll be fine.”
Ingram shot 8/20, a 40 percent rate that actually tied for his lowest percentage in a game this season, a testament to how efficient he’s been with New Orleans. Among six games in which Ingram has fired 20-plus shots, he’s been over 60 percent twice, in addition to a 10/20 night vs. Dallas …
Phoenix has been one of the bigger surprises of the early NBA season, going 7-6, but is dealing with some key injures. Aron Baynes is out for Thursday’s game, while point guard Ricky Rubio is listed as doubtful. Those two additions have helped the Suns make major improvements; they started 7-24 last season and did not pick up their eighth victory until Dec. 19.
Holiday on the Suns: “Great system with really good shooters, really good players. They’re going to be physical. We know they’re going to play defense. We feel like they are a very well-rounded team.”