Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball will miss must-win game against Dallas Mavericks with thumb strain

The New Orleans Pelicans will be without four of their usual starters in a must-win situation against the Dallas Mavericks.

Starting guard Lonzo Ball will miss Wednesday’s game with a right thumb strain, the team announced. Ball, Brandon Ingram (left ankle sprain), Zion Williamson (finger fracture) and Steven Adams (right MTP sprain) will all be sidelined while New Orleans fights to keep its play-in tournament hopes alive.

Qualifying for the play-in tournament was going to be a Hail Mary anyway. In order for the Pelicans to make it in, they need to win their remaining three games, and they need the 10th-place San Antonio Spurs to lose their remaining four games.

After facing the Mavericks, the Pelicans conclude a five-game road trip Friday against the Golden State Warriors. Their regular-season finale is Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ingram and Williamson, New Orleans’ All-Star forwards, have yet to play on the road trip, and both remain out indefinitely. Naji Marshall and James Johnson have started in their places at the forward spots.

Ball’s absence could clear the way for Nickeil Alexander-Walker to start. The second-year guard returned from a left ankle sprain Sunday. In the 10 games he’s started this season, he’s averaged 19.0 points (48.0% FG, 43.4% 3), 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

The Pelicans’ injuries could also create an opportunity for draft-and-stash wing Didi Louzada to make his NBA debut.

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