Tyreke Evans eager to return Friday at Orlando (10/24/13)

by Jim Eichenhofer


Tyreke Evans eager to return Friday at Orlando

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Tyreke Evans has only spent 10 minutes on the court so far as a New Orleans Pelican, but in that brief spell, the fifth-year NBA veteran did what he’s done for pretty much his entire career. The athletic Evans used his quickness and powerful 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame to dribble past defenders, get into the lane and draw a foul or score a close-range basket. Unfortunately for Evans, after one of his trademark moves that resulted in two points at Houston on Oct. 5, he landed awkwardly near the foot of Rockets defender Patrick Beverly, severely spraining Evans’ left ankle.

While New Orleans (6-1 in preseason) has played excellent basketball in preseason without Evans, the free-agent acquisition adds another attacking weapon to an offense that appears to have plenty of perimeter shooting (42.2 percent on three-pointers as a team in preseason). The Pelicans are looking forward to potentially seeing Evans back in action Friday, when they wrap up the exhibition schedule at Orlando (6 p.m. Central, Pelicans Radio Network).

Since the Oct. 5 injury, Evans had been relegated to watching from the sideline until this week, when he began participating in New Orleans practices and shootarounds. He tried to soak up as much as he could while rehabbing his injury, in order to be ready for the Oct. 30 regular season opener vs. Indiana.

“I feel pretty confident,” Evans said of his preparation for 2013-14. “I’ve been (mentally) running through plays, learning new plays, watching film getting to know guys better.”

Understandably, the process has been difficult for a player who wants to develop on-court chemistry with new teammates, but the ex-Sacramento King said previous injuries have taught him to be cautious.

“It’s been tough,” Evans said of missing the last six preseason games. “Just to know that I could be out there helping them in certain positions, but I can’t go. Every time I’m watching them, I wish I could be out there. I’ve been injured before and tried to rush it, but got hurt again. I wanted to be careful about it, because I wanted to be healthy for the (regular) season.”

If Evans enters Friday’s game against the Magic, it will be as a reserve, the role Monty Williams and the coaching staff projected for the former Rookie of the Year when he signed with New Orleans in July. Though it was only for the brief 10-minute stretch due to his injury, Evans scored seven points off the bench in his Pelicans debut, helping spark a 116-115 victory. He also earned three free-throw attempts.

“That’s going to be the role for now, until he changes anything,” Evans said of Williams’ decision to make him a sixth man. “I talked to Coach about my role (this summer). I’m ready for this season, excited to get out there and bring that energy to the game. I’ve been waiting all year for this to happen.”