Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing 10 straight games with right hamstring soreness, as the team shared on social media (Twitter link). New Orleans started Ingram alongside CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas for just the 11th time this season.
The Pelicans acquired McCollum from Portland on February 8, of course, but injuries have prevented the club from maximizing its potential. Zion Williamson also reportedly isn’t expected to play this season as he rehabs from a right foot injury.
The Pelicans own a 31-43 record, leading the No. 11 ranked Spurs by one game. By holding the No. 10 seed, New Orleans would qualify for the play-in tournament and could make the playoffs. Ingram has averaged 22.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, playing a key role in the team’s success.
Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division:
- Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal explores why the Grizzlies are 16-2 without Ja Morant this season. Morant is having an MVP-caliber season, averaging 27.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per contest. However, his supporting cast has stepped up on both ends, leading to Memphis’ unexpected jump up the Western Conference standings — the team has the NBA’s second-best record, at 52-23. “They talk about what they got to do going out there every single night to set a tone offensively, defensively, but with their spirit,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “It’s not just on the floor, it’s off the floor.”
- The 2019 Anthony Davis trade between the Pelicans and Lakers has never looked better for New Orleans, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com opines. The Pelicans have a young core headlined by Ingram, while the Lakers and their veteran core sits just a half-game ahead of New Orleans in the standings. Still, the Lakers won a title in 2020 largely because of Davis. The Pelicans are seeking their first playoff appearance since 2018.
- Veteran guard Gerald Green has the option to play in Puerto Rico, but he remains focused on landing an NBA opportunity, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Puerto Rican club Gigantes de Carolina announced Green’s signing on Saturday, but his agent cautioned it’s simply an option for after the season. Green retired from professional basketball in October, joined the Rockets‘ coaching staff, then unretired and joined the team’s G League affiliate in January.