Anthony Morrow could provide spark for New Orleans Pelicans

After missing the previous game with a stomach virus, guard Anthony Morrow came out blazing against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night in the New Orleans Pelicans’ road victory.

Morrow scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Perhaps more important, he was 4 of 7 on his specialty: 3-point shooting. It was welcomed and needed, helping fill a void that has been missing since long-distance ace Ryan Anderson was injured Jan. 3.

The Pelicans signed Morrow, a career 42-percent 3-point shooter, to complement Anderson and help open the court for teammates’ drives.

“The thing I didn’t like about ‘A-Mo’ was that he was turning down shots,” coach Monty Williams said Saturday. “When he’s out there and he’s got an open look, he’s got to take it. I thought (Friday night), he didn’t even think about it, and we kind of fed off of that.”

With the Pelicans set to tip off against the Orlando Magic at 5 p.m. Sunday at the New Orleans Arena, followed by a game Monday night at Cleveland, that spark from Morrow is something they would like to see more of with the team trying to battle through injuries to key players.

“I didn’t do anything differently concerning my preparation or anything,” said Morrow, who played 19 minutes against Detroit. “Just an opportunity came up. I can’t control how many minutes I play or anything like that. I just have to be ready for any situation that comes up. But we’re just playing hard, and I’m glad my team could find me and I could contribute to the win.”

This will be the second game against the Magic. The first was Nov. 1 at Orlando, and although that seems like a long time ago, it remains fresh on the Pelicans’ minds. It was their first listless performance, coming in the season’s second game. The Magic spread the court, ran its offense flawlessly and shot 55.7 percent, including 11 of 22 on 3-point tries, in winning 110-90.

Orlando led 53-35 by halftime in a game in which guard Arron Afflalo scored 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including 4 of 5 on 3-point attempts. The Pelicans had problems against the pick-and-roll and dribble penetration.

“We have to play with a great deal of effort (Sunday),” Williams said. “I thought we were really passive in that game.”

The Pelicans had come off an emotional season-opening home loss to the Indiana Pacers, the first game with their new name and a cast of new players playing in the refurbished Arena.

“We thought we could just show up against Orlando, because we beat them twice in the preseason,” Williams said. “They just beat us like a drum. We have to make sure we bring not only the execution but a great effort (Sunday) against a team that is pretty good when it’s knocking down shots.”

Since that game, the Magic has struggled and is 13-32, looking at times like the worst team in the league — outside of Milwaukee. Orlando is 2-11 in January but has won two of its past four games, including Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Part of the Magic’s woes of late can be attributed to 6-foot-11 center Nikola Vucevic being out since Jan. 8 with a concussion. Vucevic, a good low-post player, was averaging 13.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.

Baton Rouge native and former LSU standout Glen “Big Baby” Davis, 6-9, 289 pounds, has stepped in and filled the void after missing the first 12 games rehabilitating his left foot, which plagued him much of last season. He has averaged 13.4 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Orlando is 3-18 on the road. It is 1-5 overall against Southwest Division opponents, the only victory coming against the Pelicans.

New Orleans, like Orlando, has shown some spark of late. After an eight-game losing streak, the Pelicans have won two of their past three games. A victory Sunday would give them their best stretch since winning three of four from Dec. 23-30.

Notes

Guard/forward Tyreke Evans, who missed Friday night’s game because of illness, did not practice Saturday, and it’s not known if he will play against Orlando. … Monday’s game at Cleveland will be the teams’ second meeting this season. The Pelicans won 104-100 on Nov. 22 at the Arena.