NEW ORLEANS — Hornets rookie power forward Anthony Davis is expected to return to the lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards at New Orleans Arena. However, after Monday’s practice, coach Monty Williams said it was not certain.
“We’re not sure,” he said. “He’s been cleared for contact and has been ramping up his conditioning, but we’ll see where he is. I’m not sure if he has to take another (medical) test. He practiced (Monday), but we have to wait and see how he feels.”
Davis, who has been out since the Nov. 17 game at Milwaukee in which he had 28 points and 11 rebounds, has a stress reaction in his left ankle. He missed his 11th consecutive game Saturday at Miami, and the Hornets (5-14) are 2-9 in those games.
“He gives us production from a number of positions,” Williams said, explaining what the team has missed. “He can play (power forward and center), distract shots, he can run the floor. He was getting more comfortable when he last played. He gives us a lot.”
With Davis injured, the Hornets have been without their top two players — guard Eric Gordon, who has not played this season, being the other. Gordon, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in February, is said to have soreness in the knee and is rehabilitating in Los Angeles.
The Hornets have missed Davis’ productivity, and his absence forced less-talented players to play more, affecting the team’s rotation and bench.
Power forward Ryan Anderson, who was acquired to come off the bench and provide a boost with his 3-point shooting and veteran play, has replaced Davis in the starting lineup. But when Anderson comes out of the game, there’s not a comparable player to replace him.
The Wizards (2-14) also are without their best player.
Point guard John Wall, like Davis a No. 1 pick, is out with a left knee injury. And in Washington’s game against Atlanta on Sunday, backup point guard A.J. Price broke his right hand. He is expected to miss four to six weeks. For now, shooting guard Jordan Crawford and 6-foot-7 point guard Shawn Livingston will handle the point.
Also, former Hornets small forward Trevor Ariza strained his left calf in a victory against Miami on Dec. 4. He could miss up to three weeks.
The Hornets also have guard issues. Williams called them out as a group, suggesting their defense was not up to par and that opponents’ penetration into the lane was causing problems.
“On any team, the guards have to show a defensive front,” he said. “(Center) Robin Lopez, Ryan and (reserves Jason Smith and Lance Thomas) have to stop guards all the time. Those are the games when we give up offensive rebounds because our bigs are stepping up and another (opposing) big is right behind us getting a tip-in or an offensive rebound.”
Williams replaced small forward Al-Farouq Aminu in the starting lineup with Xavier Henry against Memphis on Friday and at Miami on Saturday. Williams said there may be more lineup shuffling for Tuesday night’s game.
“We’re tinkering with the lineup to find the right combination,” he said. “We want guys to play hard and compete. We try to hammer that to them every day.”
Washington, which is 0-8 in road games, has lost its past two games, against Golden State and at Atlanta, since beating Miami. The Hornets have lost three in a row since beating Milwaukee at home Dec. 3.
Tuesday’s game is the first of three this week. The Hornets travel to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, then host Minnesota on Friday.
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