Pelicans guard Eric Gordon to return after missing 16 games

NEW ORLEANS -- A day after losing starting shooting guard Bryce Dejean-Jones to right wrist surgery, the New Orleans Pelicans received some good news for a change on Friday as Eric Gordon, the team's regular starting shooting guard the past five seasons, will return to the starting lineup Saturday at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Gordon has missed the past 16 games after undergoing surgery on Jan. 20 to repair a broken ring finger on his right (shooting) hand.

"There's still a little bit of pain and swelling, Gordon said. "I just wanted to get to a point where I'm able to be out there and play and be somewhat comfortable. It's gonna take time to heal even more, it's gonna get better. I just want to be out there where I can be able to shoot and dribble without too much problems."

Gordon said he has been playing with a "little mini brace" that covers two of the fingers on his shooting hand, which he said makes it difficult to catch and shoot with quickness and restricts him "somewhat" while dribbling.

"That's something different that I haven't done," he said of the brace. "You just have to keep on adjusting to that, and eventually I'll be fine."

Plagued by injuries throughout his career, Gordon was one of the few Pelicans players to remain on the floor earlier in the season. Gordon, who has yet to play more than 64 games in a season over the past five, appeared in all of New Orleans' first 41 games, averaging 14.9 points, 2.7 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game while shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range.

"It gives us another floor-spacer," coach Alvin Gentry said. "I think he gives a guy who [was] playing pretty good basketball when he got hurt. We hope we can get him back there. It's one of those things where, cardio-wise, he was able to keep everything up, with his running and things like that. And obviously he's gonna be rusty from the standpoint of shooting part and all of that, but it will be good to just have him out there."

Gordon will give the Pelicans 11 active players on Saturday. In addition to Dejean-Jones, New Orleans is also without starters Tyreke Evans (right knee surgery) and Quincy Pondexter (left knee surgery) for the rest of the season, and Omer Asik, who could miss two weeks after spraining his right ankle in Sunday's win over Detroit.

Saturday's starting unit -- expected to consist of Gordon, Norris Cole, Dante Cunningham, Anthony Davis and Alexis Ajinca -- will be the 27th different one the Pelicans have used this season.

"It's another line change," Gentry said. "We've now had more line changes than the NHL champions.

"It's just part of it. Our approach now has been, since this happens so often now, that's it's just part of it and we have to stick the guy in there and move on."