Shortly before their last game of 2018, the New Orleans Pelicans found out they would be forced to win without Anthony Davis.
The Pelicans succeeded but hope Davis is back in the lineup Wednesday night when they visit the Brooklyn Nets.
Davis was held out of Monday's 123-114 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves due to an illness. Davis was originally in the starting lineup but the change was made about five minutes before the national anthem.
Without Davis for the fifth time this season, the Pelicans won for the first time the center sat out since Dec. 6, 2017. The Pelicans found ways to compensate for his 28.5 points and 13 rebounds by getting a huge night from Julius Randle and others.
Randle totaled 33 points and 11 rebounds while Jrue Holiday added 26. Those performances helped the Pelicans win for only the fifth time in their last 20 games since Nov. 21.
New Orleans also was able to win without Davis by also getting 21 from Darius Miller along with the return of Elfrid Payton from a broken finger that cost him the previous 22 games.
"I think for the most part, I tend to be aggressive," Holiday said. "Just wanted to read the game and let it come to me. Sometimes you might force it thinking Anthony is going to be out."
Miller said he and his teammates wanted to compete for Davis.
"He did everything he could to try and play," Miller said. "We appreciate at that. At the last minute, he decided he couldn't, so we tried to go out and win the game for him."
New Orleans last put together consecutive wins Nov. 16-19 when they won three straight. The skid began with a 121-120 loss in Philadelphia on Nov. 21 and the Pelicans own 11 defeats by single digits in this stretch.
Besides containing Davis if he plays, the Nets will attempt to return to their winning ways after a lost weekend in Charlotte and Milwaukee. Following a wild 134-132 double-overtime win over Charlotte, the Nets followed it up with a 13-point loss in Charlotte on Friday and a 129-115 loss in Milwaukee on Saturday in a game when they trailed by 26 in the third quarter.
The Nets rested D'Angelo Russell and reserve Ed Davis but lost Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to a strained groin in the first quarter. Hollis-Jefferson may sit out Wednesday but coach Kenny Atkinson said earlier this week that he did not think it was as bad as the left groin strain the forward sustained in a charity game in China in August.
"It's not a pull, it's not a tear, (it's) a strain. So that's good news," Atkinson said. "I can't give you a timetable, but it's not a huge, long process like he went through in the offseason. So I'd say the news is positive in that sense."
Jared Dudley started for Hollis-Jefferson earlier in the season and Kenneth Faried saw a bulk of the minutes Saturday by totaling 21 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.
The Nets will also be without Allen Crabbe, who is expected to miss his 10th straight game with a sore right knee.
Despite the lost weekend and the injury to Hollis-Jefferson, the Nets are 9-3 in their last 12 games since blowing a 23-point lead and taking a 114-112 loss to Oklahoma City on a buzzer beater by Paul George on Dec. 5.
The Nets also are 6-2 in their last eight games that were within five points of the final five minutes of regulation.
"Playoffs? Yeah, for sure. I think that's more achievable than the .500," Davis said after practice Monday. "You get to .500, you might mess around and be a fifth seed, sixth seed, for sure. Playoffs is definitely (possible). We're a game and a half out of the sixth spot, right? I think it's definitely achievable."
New Orleans is 9-1 in the last 10 meetings. In the first meeting on Oct. 26, the Pelicans wiped out a 12-point second half deficit and scored the final nine points of a 117-115 win.
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