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The New Orleans Pelicans are visiting Oklahoma City for a 7 PM CT preseason match-up with the Thunder. Both teams are 0-1 to start preseason play, and will look to get things moving in the right direction tonight at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Oklahoma City dropped its preseason opener on Tuesday night, falling to the Houston Rockets by a score of 104-97. Despite the loss, it was a bit surreal to see Paul George (15 pts, 5 reb) and Carmelo Anthony (19 pts) in Thunder uniforms. The two stars shined at times, and struggled at others, but the team as a whole performed about as well as could have been expected in the absence of Russell Westbrook. With Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson also missing in action, very few long term assessments could be made with several key pieces on the sideline.
Luckily for Billy Donovan & Co, all signs are currently pointing toward the reigning MVP playing tonight in OKC.
On the other side, the Pelicans started their preseason with a defeat — losing to 113-109 to the Chicago Bulls. DeMarcus Cousins (20 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast) and Anthony Davis (24 pts, 10 reb) led the way for New Orleans, but — like the Thunder — was lit up from beyond the arc. With an unusual starting five of Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo, Dante Cunningham, Davis and Cousins, there is clearly still much to figure out on that roster. As Oklahoma City has embraced the small-ball revolution with Melo at the power forward position, the Pelicans present a clash of styles that should be interesting to watch.
Look for Westbrook’s official designation prior to tip-off, and big man Steven Adams is active after being a full-go at yesterday’s practice. While the team in its entirety won’t be available, there’s at least a chance for a first-look at the starting five that will be rolled out against the New York Knicks on opening night.
Alex Abrines: Out — Knee
Steven Adams: Active — “Glute-ish Issue”
Patrick Patterson: Out — Knee
Russell Westbrook: Game Time Decision — KneePelicans
Solomon Hill: Out — Hamstring
Frank Jackson: Out — Foot
–Paul George and Carmelo Anthony received 26 and 20 minutes, respectively, against the Rockets. There’s been no indication of a minutes increase, but one would assume the intensity will be turned up.
–With Patterson and Abrines out, again look for extended minutes from Jerami Grant and another great opportunity for Terrance Ferguson. Grant was the only Thunder player to reach the 30-minute plateau on Tuesday, while Ferguson outperformed early expectations with 8 points and solid effort on the defensive end.
–Should Westbrook ultimately not play, Raymond Felton will likely draw the start at point guard. Isaiah Canaan received 28 minutes on Tuesday, and showed flashes in his attempt to win the job of third point guard. Semaj Christon drew a DNP, but figures to get an opportunity on the floor tonight.
–Carmelo Anthony discusses the team growing after one preseason game. Via Royce Young:
–Patrick Patterson is officially out, but did get some work in at today’s practice. Via Erik Horne: