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- Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (left knee bruise, hyperextension) was fitted with a protective knee brace, but will miss his first game of the season. The mop-topped Brazilian was injured Sunday in Cleveland’s 99-90 loss to Phoenix when Suns power forward Markieff Morris inadvertently rolled up on his lower leg. “Andy has been a little banged up and sore lately, so it’s a concern,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “If the medical team and doctors say he can’t play, then it’s not going to happen.” Varejao is averaging 8.8 points and a team-high 10.3 rebounds in 44 contests.
- The Pelicans’ lineup consists of point guard Brian Roberts, shooting guard Eric Gordon, small forward Al-Farouq Aminu, power forward Anthony Davis, and center Alexis Ajinca. Davis — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft — is averaging team highs of 20.1 points, 10.5 boards, and 3.14 rejections in 36 games. “Anthony Davis has size, length, a great skill set, instinct, and intelligence,” Brown said. “He truly can be a dominant player on both ends.”
- The Pelicans are riding a two-game winning streak, but are only 3-9 since Jan. 4 and remain in last place in the Southwest Division with an 18-25 record. “It’s a small sample size, so I don’t anyone to get too excited about these last couple of wins,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said, cracking a slight smile. “When we were losing all those games, everyone said the team was bad and I sucked.”
- The Cavaliers are 1-3 on their season-long, five-game homestand, but remain two games behind Charlotte for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Cleveland’s starters are All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting guard C.J. Miles, small forward Luol Deng, power forward Tristan Thompson, and center Tyler Zeller. Second-year pro Zeller is making his first start since April 17, 2013.
- Inactive for New Orleans are point guard Jrue Holiday (right tibia stress fracture), power forward Ryan Anderson (herniated neck disc), and center Jason Smith (right knee cartilage tear). Not in uniform for Cleveland are Varejao and rookie shooting guard Carrick Felix (left patellar stress fracture), who was hurt Saturday while playing for the NBA D-League’s Canton Charge.
– Brian Dulik