Anthony Davis was flat on his back, grabbing his right ankle and wincing in pain. And now the New Orleans Pelicans can only wonder if their best player will be ready for opening night.
Davis sprained his ankle Wednesday in a preseason game against the Houston Rockets in Beijing, part of the NBA Global Games. The All-Star center was unable to play when last season ended because of shoulder and knee problems, and this season is presumably going to begin with him facing yet another injury issue.
“It’s very frustrating,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “It’s very frustrating in that we can’t seem to get a rhythm or we can’t seem to put the team together because there’s always someone missing.”
Davis has never played in more than 68 games in a regular season for New Orleans, missing an average of 17 contests in each of his first four seasons. He needed surgery on his left knee to fix a problem in March.
Davis was scheduled for more evaluation on his ankle Thursday, when the team is back in New Orleans. The Pelicans’ 13-hour flight home from Beijing was scheduled to land around 2:40 a.m. Eastern time.
New Orleans used 42 different starting lineups in 82 games last season — only one of those lineups for more than six games. And this season is starting with an array of injury concerns for the Pelicans, even before Davis got hurt when he was going against Houston center Nene during the first quarter.
Guard E’Twaun Moore (right heel contusion) got hurt Wednesday as well. Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter didn’t even make the trip to China while dealing with the aftermath of knee surgeries, and starting point guard Jrue Holiday is out indefinitely to be with his wife, former U.S. soccer star Lauren Holiday — who was diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant with the couple’s first child.
The Holiday’s daughter was born last month, and Lauren Holiday is expected to have surgery to remove the benign tumor later this fall.
ROCKETS 116, PELICANS 104
BEIJING — James Harden scored 14 points and handed out eight assists for Houston, which remained unbeaten in four preseason games and swept two matchups with New Orleans on this trip to China.
Bobby Brown led the Rockets with 18 points. Quinn Cook had 20 points for New Orleans, on 7 for 9 shooting.
ROCKETS: Houston led by 25 points at halftime. … Rookie Chinanu Onuaku had two points, notable that they came on free throws he shot underhanded — something he did last season in college at Louisville as well.
PELICANS: Langston Galloway had 16 points for New Orleans. … First-round pick Buddy Hield missed all four of his shots and went scoreless. … The Pelicans had 27 assists on 36 field goals.
UP NEXT: Houston (4-0) plays host to Memphis on Saturday. New Orleans (1-3) goes to Atlanta on Tuesday.
SUNS 111, JAZZ 110
SALT LAKE CITY — Archie Goodwin’s dunk with 3.3 seconds left gave Phoenix its only lead of the night, and capped the Suns’ rally from a 30-point first-half deficit.
The teams shot a combined 106 free throws — 53 apiece. The Suns were called for 40 fouls, the Jazz for 39.
Utah started the game on a 46-16 run, but lost when Shelvin Mack’s jumper bounced off the rim as time expired.
Devin Booker led Phoenix with 20 points. Dante Exum scored 18 points and Rudy Gobert added 17 for the Jazz.
SUNS: Tyson Chandler (hamstring) didn’t play, nor did Brandon Knight (knee), P.J. Tucker (back) and John Jenkins (abdominal). … Eric Bledsoe scored 16 for Phoenix.
JAZZ: Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood all were sidelined. … Gobert took 15 free throws in the first half, one more than the entire Phoenix roster had in the first 24 minutes.
UP NEXT: Phoenix (2-2) hosts Dallas on Friday. Utah (2-2) hosts the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
SPURS 95, MAGIC 89
ORLANDO, Fla. — Pau Gasol scored 14 points for San Antonio, which won despite shooting 39 percent.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Bryn Forbes each added 12 for the Spurs. Evan Fournier led all scorers with 20 for Orlando, while Jeff Green scored 11 for the Magic.
SPURS: Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard both got the night off. … San Antonio held Orlando without a field goal for nearly four minutes in the fourth quarter while pulling away.
MAGIC: Bismack Biyombo had nine points and 11 rebounds. … Orlando committed 23 turnovers. … Aaron Gordon and Nik Vucevic each grabbed 10 rebounds, neither playing more than 21 minutes. … Serge Ibaka made his debut with the Magic, scoring seven points in 20 minutes.
UP NEXT: San Antonio (3-1) hosts Miami on Friday. Orlando (0-3) hosts Indiana on Friday.
PACERS 101, BUCKS 83
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Indiana outscored Milwaukee 49-12 over the final 17 minutes of the first half, going into the break with a 62-31 lead and cruising from there.
Rodney Stuckey led the Pacers with 21 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 20 points, six assists and five rebounds in 24 minutes for Milwaukee.
BUCKS: Jabari Parker, John Henson and Michael Carter-Williams each scored 11 points. … The Bucks were plus-12 when Henson was on the floor.
PACERS: Paul George (illness) got the night off. … Stuckey was 4-for-4 from 3-point range. … Jeff Teague scored 15 points and Lavoy Allen finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. … Al Jefferson grabbed 10 rebounds, all defensive, in 21 minutes.
UP NEXT: Milwaukee (2-1) hosts Chicago on Saturday. Indiana (3-1) hosts former coach Frank Vogel and Orlando on Friday.
TIMBERWOLVES 105, NUGGETS 88
LINCOLN, Neb. — Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad each scored 18 points for Minnesota, and the Timberwoves pulled away in the second half.
Wilson Chandler scored 16 points for Denver, which got 14 from Jamal Murray.
NUGGETS: Denver shot 15 percent (3-20) from 3-point range and committed 25 turnovers. … The Nuggets were outscored 55-38 in the middle two quarters.
TIMBERWOLVES: Ricky Rubio had eight assists. … Towns had eight rebounds and Muhammad shot 7-for-10 in 19 minutes. … Minnesota shot 38 free throws in the game, 31 of those in the first half.
UP NEXT: Denver (2-2) hosts Golden State on Friday. Minnesota (2-1) plays Miami in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday.