Is Larry Nance Jr. playing tonight against the Magic?

Larry Nance Jr., New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)
Larry Nance Jr., New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) /

Midway through the second quarter of Saturday night’s eventual blowout loss to the New York Knicks, Larry Nance Jr. went down with what was later ruled as a left ankle sprain. He was subsequently ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Unfortunately, he will also not be participating in tonight’s clash against the Orlando Magic.

This news shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as it was reported that Nance walked out of The Garden on crutches and a boot.

However, while this information isn’t shocking, it is devastating. Nance is the team’s best interior defender, and as we recently discussed, this team has struggled mightily to protect the paint. His absence will only serve to compound the matter.

With Nance out, Jonas Valanciunas will likely see an uptick in playing time, with Willy Hernangomez and potentially Jaxson Hayes receiving minutes at the backup five spot. The latter, though, is highly unlikely, considering Hayes didn’t see any time after Nance went down until after the game was already out of reach.

Another, possibly more fruitful, strategy might be to turn to some sort of small-ball lineup. The Pelicans have largely shied away from this lineup alignment (mostly because they tout so many big bodies on the roster). But it might be worth trying tonight in Nance’s absence, especially because it would allow them to allocate more minutes to their cavalcade of two-way wings and forwards (Trey Murphy III, Herb Jones, Josh Richardson, Naji Marshall, and Dyson Daniels).

Nance joins Zion Williamson (hamstring) and E.J. Liddell (knee) on the team injury report for tonight’s game. The team’s next game is scheduled for Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers. As of right now, it is unknown whether or not Nance will be ready to play in that game.

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