The Pelicans may not have either of their star forwards available as they begin what could be the most important stretch of their season, writes Christian Clark of NOLA. Zion Williamson will be sidelined until at least March 22 with a strained right hamstring, and Brandon Ingram is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game after spraining his right ankle on Wednesday.
“(Ingram’s) done some pool work today,” coach Willie Green said Friday. “He’s done some work on the floor. He’ll be questionable tomorrow.”
Currently 10th in the West at 32-34, the Pelicans will play three games in the next four days against teams close to them in the standings. After hosting the Thunder tonight, New Orleans will face the Trail Blazers on Sunday and the Lakers on Tuesday.
There’s more on the Pelicans:
- While Ingram and Williamson have both missed more games than they’re played this season, CJ McCollum‘s durability has helped New Orleans stay afloat, Clark adds. McCollum has fought through multiple illnesses and recently began wearing a splint because of an injured right thumb, but he has appeared in 59 of the Pelicans’ 66 games. “CJ has been a warrior for us all season,” Green said. “Like you said, he has played through being sick. Playing through the thumb injury, which we know. He understands the magnitude of our games coming up. We’re leaning on him a ton.”
- Williamson hasn’t played since January 2, but a source close to the situation tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that the team still expects him to return before the regular season ends. Williamson was averaging 26 points per game before the injury, and his presence could have a major impact on the playoff race.
- A sprained ankle that sidelined Larry Nance Jr. has created more playing time for Jaxson Hayes, Clark notes in another NOLA story. Hayes hasn’t become the player the Pelicans thought he would when they selected him with the eighth pick in the 2019 draft, but he sometimes shows why the team was so high on him. He had 14 points in 24 minutes in Wednesday’s win over the Mavericks, making all six of his shots and closing down the lane against Dallas on defense. New Orleans considered trades involving Hayes before last month’s deadline, according to Clark, but opted to hold onto him in his contract year.