Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

Amidst rash of injuries, Pelicans rookies earning valuable minutes

LISTEN: Team could get top scorer Ingram back tonight vs. Blazers

Mark Menard
November 19, 2019 - 5:57 am

Have the Pelicans turned a crucial corner in their season?

Through their last five games, the Pels have alternated wins and losses to go 3-2. And they've done that with a number of key players sidelined, and some of the youngest members of the roster earning key minutes.

The Pelicans' two first-round picks not named Zion Williamson - Jaxson Hayes and Nickiel Alexander-Walker - have both flashed their tremendous talents in recent games, and veteran guard Jrue Holiday says the experience will serve them well.

"I was in their position at one point," Holiday said. "I know they're excited to get out there and play and play so many minutes against good teams. I think they actually like the fact that they're playing meaningful minutes. When you do that and get wins out of it, it really builds confidence."

Holiday also highlighted the value of different combinations of players learning to play together at NBA speed.

"That's how you build chemistry, right?" Holiday asked. "That's how you get through adversity. That's how you see guys who are really going to step up to the plate, make big plays, and really just accept the challenge. All around, it's been good. I can't wait for the other guys to get healthy and come back. But I'm glad the guys that are out there now are playing hard and playing very well."

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry echoed Holiday's sentiments.

"I don't think anything can take the place of experience and being in the game, learning from your mistakes, and just figuring out what you can do to help the team in a positive standpoint," Gentry said. "Hopefully this is gonna be something to help us down the road."

At 4-9 overall on the season, the Pelicans do hope to get leading scorer Brandon Ingram back from a knee injury tonight when they host the 5-9 Portland Trail Blazers in the Smoothie King Center. Meanwhile, center Derrick Favors and swingman Josh Hart have already been ruled out for tonight's game.

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