Playing without their two All-Stars, Alvin Gentry wants Pelicans to embrace challenge at Golden State

OAKLAND – A trip to raucous Oracle Arena would represent a daunting challenge for New Orleans regardless of the circumstances, but considering that DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles soreness) and Anthony Davis (knee soreness) won’t be in uniform for the Pelicans – along with Friday starter E’Twaun Moore – it’s even more difficult. New Orleans (33-46) will face the defending Western Conference champion Warriors (league-best 65-14) on Saturday while relying on only nine players, a result of various injuries and the decision to not risk injury to Davis and Cousins.

Despite the odds being stacked heavily against his club, Pelicans second-year head coach Alvin Gentry views Saturday’s game as an opportunity for several of his younger players to gain valuable experience, in one of the NBA’s best environments.

“I just think for us, it’s all about trying to do something that’s a positive for us moving forward,” Gentry said. “For a guy like (rookies) Quinn Cook or Cheick Diallo, or (veteran guard) Jordan Crawford, you get to play against the best team in basketball. It’s a huge challenge, but I think it’s something you should enjoy. As I was telling the young guys, you won’t play in a better atmosphere, from the standpoint of people enjoying the game, and emotionally being involved in the game. So it’s a great challenge for you. This is one of those things where you should embrace it. If you’re a young player and you get to play in this game and go out and compete against those guys (Golden State), you should embrace it. Because it’s what the league is all about.”

Other notes from pregame in Northern California:

Gentry said New Orleans’ starting lineup will include Jrue Holiday and Tim Frazier in the backcourt (the latter replacing Moore), with Solomon Hill and Dante Cunningham at the forward, along with Alexis Ajinca moving into the center spot for Davis. …

Gentry on Davis: “He’s having soreness in his knee. At this stage of the season, we’re not going to risk anything. So unless it feels much, much better, we won’t play him.”

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