The New Orleans Pelicans have reeled off a franchise-record-tying 10 consecutive victories, but on Friday night they face the prospect of hosting the Washington Wizards without All-Star forward Anthony Davis.
Davis, who has been on a tear during the Pelicans' winning streak, rolled his left ankle in the third quarter of a 114-101 road victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. He is listed as doubtful for Friday night after an MRI on Thursday.
"Having him out there, we still have to execute; not having him out there, we still have to execute, and that's defensively and offensively," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "We just got to continue to strive to get better and continue to work. I think the effort is there, and we're playing hard and doing things. We've got to also play smart."
The Pelicans (38-26) have been doing just that during their winning streak, averaging 124.9 points per game. They also have been unusually dominant on the road, winning their last seven to improve their record to 21-14 away from the Smoothie King Center.
Even though Wizards guard John Wall is still sidelined while rehabbing a left knee injury, Washington (37-28) has given the Pelicans fits in recent years, winning 11 of the last 12 games.
Without Davis and center DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans will have lean heavily on recently acquired center Emeka Okafor and on forwards Nikola Mirotic and Cheick Diallo, who have been major contributors during the streak.
Mirotic scored a team-high 26 points against Sacramento, and Diallo has shown an ability to run the court, rebound and block shots. Guard Jrue Holiday also has stepped up, flashing his aggressiveness to post up lighter and smaller guards close to the basket.
Mirotic has been a beneficiary of Holiday's passing ability. Holiday had a career-high 17 assists in a 121-116 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
"This team is so unselfish," said Mirotic, who joined the Pelicans after Cousins went down Jan. 26 with a season-ending left Achilles tear. "It's been fun. Those guys have been amazing. We need to be available to make those shots, which is why it's important to be available to do some extra work so that I can be ready."
A victory would give the Pelicans, at least temporarily, the No. 3 seed spot in the Western Conference playoff race, depending on the outcome of 39-26 Portland's game at Golden State late Friday night.
Behind Bradley Beal's 30 points, the Wizards snapped a three-game home losing streak Tuesday with a 117-113 overtime victory over Miami. Otto Porter left the game with a bruised hip in the fourth quarter and did not return. He is listed as day to day.
Markieff Morris hit a critical 3-pointer in overtime to key the victory, but he knows upcoming road games against New Orleans on Friday and Miami on Saturday are important as the Wizards try to position themselves for the playoffs. The Wizards went 1-3 during their four-game homestand.
"We've just got to keep pushing forward," Morris said. "(The Pelicans) are a hot team right now. We've just got to slow them down and get two road wins."
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