The New Orleans Pelicans are in the midst of one of their best stretches but will have to figure out how to keep winning without one of their starting guards.
Eric Gordon is expected to miss at least a month, and the Pelicans will try to ease into his lengthy absence by continuing their recent mastery over the Detroit Pistons.
New Orleans (14-27) earned its third win in four games and shot 50.6 percent in a 114-99 victory against Minnesota on Tuesday. The Pelicans shined from 3-point range again, going 10 for 23, and are connecting at 43.1 percent in the last four.
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Anthony Davis scored 35 points in his fourth game since returning from a bruised back, but New Orleans lost Gordon to a fractured right ring finger. The shooting guard, averaging 14.9 points, is expected to miss up to six weeks after undergoing surgery, ending his streak of 90 consecutive games played.
Injuries have been a way of life for the Pelicans this season, and only Alonzo Gee has a chance to appear in all 42 games Thursday.
"It's an opportunity for somebody else to step up," guard Jrue Holiday told the team's official website. "Obviously it stinks, because it seems like every year somebody is getting hurt (on the Pelicans' roster), with a pretty big injury. We're going to have to fight through adversity again."
Holiday, averaging 13.7 points and 5.0 assists, is expected to start in Gordon's place. He has totaled 42 points in his last two games while shooting 59.3 percent and has a combined 38 assists in his past four.
Holiday will try to help the Pelicans to a seventh consecutive win over Detroit (23-19) and seventh in a row at home. New Orleans hasn't lost to the Pistons on its own floor since Dec. 5, 2007.
Detroit is coming off its highest-scoring regulation game of the season, Wednesday's 123-114 victory in Houston. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Morris had 22 points apiece while helping the Pistons overcome Andre Drummond's woes from the free-throw line.
Drummond set an NBA record by missing 23 shots from the stripe on a franchise-record 36 attempts. He was fouled 21 times as the Rockets tried to take advantage of his 35.5 free-throw percentage, the league's worst among qualifying players, but Drummond made six of 12 tries in the fourth quarter.
"I'm not going to miss them all," he said. "I've worked on it enough where I'm going to build a rhythm and over time I ended up getting one."
Drummond went a combined 1 for 2 from the line in last season's two games against the Pelicans, including an 88-85 loss in New Orleans on March 4.
Davis totaled 66 points, 23 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in those matchups. He had 39 - four shy of tying his career high - in the home victory.
Brandon Jennings is averaging 23.8 points in his last five games against the Pelicans but is still working his way back from a ruptured left Achilles, averaging 6.3 points in 11 contests since missing the season's first two months.
Detroit hasn't defeated the Pelicans since Feb. 4, 2012.