Ryan Anderson out indefinitely with herniated disc
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
In a season that has already been filled with adversity due to injuries, the New Orleans Pelicans learned Tuesday that they will be without their leading scorer indefinitely with a herniated disc. That was the diagnosis for Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson, who was struck from behind in Friday’s game in an accidental collision with Boston Celtics forward Gerald Wallace. Anderson spent the past several days in a Boston hospital, undergoing a series of tests on the injury, which caused him to leave the TD Garden in the fourth quarter of Friday’s road win.
The Pelicans also began the regular season without Anderson and did not fare well, starting the campaign at 3-6, as Anderson rehabbed from a chip fracture in the second toe of his right foot. Immediately upon his return to the lineup, New Orleans went on a three-game winning streak, starting with a 135-98 rout over Philadelphia.
Anderson is averaging a career-high 19.7 points per game and may be enjoying his best season as a pro. He won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award in 2011-12. The Pelicans are 12-10 in the 22 games he has played – including 7-3 at home – but are just 3-7 overall in the games he’s missed so far, including Saturday’s defeat at Indiana. New Orleans (15-17) is three games out of eighth place behind Dallas (19-15) in the Western Conference standings, but now will have to try to make a push without Anderson for an indefinite period of time.
While consistently playing heavy minutes all season, Anderson has been shifted between a starting role and coming off the bench amid various injuries to other Pelicans frontcourt players. The recent injury absence of center Jason Smith moved Anderson back into the starting lineup and shifted Anthony Davis to the starting 5. With Anderson sidelined Saturday at Indiana, Pelicans Coach Monty Williams opted to elevate Alexis Ajinca to the starting center slot, while shifting Davis back to power forward, where he had started much of the season. Davis also has missed seven games due to injury, including a broken left hand he suffered Dec. 1 at New York. As a result, New Orleans has only had its two leading scorers on the floor, Anderson and Davis, for 15 of its 32 games.