The New Orleans Pelicans are thin at guard, so when Devonte’ Graham — a 3-point specialist and sound ball handler is sidelined — his absence hurts.
Graham missed three games with left foot soreness, a stretch in which New Orleans suffered ugly back-to-back losses against two fringe playoff teams, Indiana and Minnesota.
Wednesday, Graham returned, and the Pelicans looked like a much more competent basketball team. On Thanksgiving eve, they deep fried the Washington Wizards to get a 127-102 win.
New Orleans improved to 4-16 overall and 3-7 at Smoothie King Center.
The Pelicans led by as many as 24 points in the first half.
With 4:08 remaining, Graham buried a 3 that put them ahead by 21. On New Orleans’ next possession, he hit another triple from a spot a few feet away from his previous make.
Graham finished with 12 points in 21 minutes. He provided steadiness for a team that has had its share of erratic moments this season.
Following an embarrassing home loss to the Timberwolves on Monday, Pelicans coach Willie Green switched up his starting lineup. He started Graham, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones and Jonas Valanciuans. That group looked in sync from the opening tip.
By halftime, Valanciunas had scored 17 points, Ingram had 14 and Graham had 12. New Orleans scored 72 points in the first two quarters — the…