Lakers vs. Pelicans preview: Better luck this time

USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers try to ride the lightning of another big win as they take on the Pelicans.

Showtime: 5 p.m. PT

Plot: Here we go again. The second half of a back-to-back after a huge statement win early in the season. The Los Angeles Lakers face off against the re-branded New Orleans Pelicans as they get back to business after Steve Blake's game-winning three-point shot over Dwight Howard Thursday night.

The Lakers will have to be more "first half" Lakers than "second half" Lakers after squandering a 19-point lead by the fourth quarter. Turnovers plagued the Lakers after their hot start as James Harden penetrated to the rim and strolled to the free-throw line on repeat.

New Orleans will be without sharpshooting big man Ryan Anderson, which could help the Lakers' cause as they adjust to a new frontcourt rotation. Chris Kaman is listed as the starting power forward again after notching his first start in a Lakers' uniform against the Rockets.

Speaking of Kaman, keep an eye on the Mike D'Antoni's rotations. Shawne Williams appears to be this seasons' first odd man out for the Lakers, and Nick Young was a late start over Xavier Henry last night. There's also the matter of whether Steve Nash will play (the team is expected to rest him on back-to-backs), and who starts in the backcourt if he does sit.

Still, dealing with Anthony Davis will be a challenge for those old, heavy legs of Pau Gasol and Kaman on the back-to-back. Davis has started the season averaging an incredible 21.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. The second-year player has been rattling rims on plays like this:

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And while he doesn't have the body mass to match Gasol, his wingspan should cause issues on entry passes to the frontcourt.

The other challenge for the Lakers will be dealing with the many perimeter talents of New Orleans. A night after struggling to keep Harden out of the pain the team will have to deal with Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. Sometimes all at once, even. Gordon has been particularly hot from beyond the arc, shooting 48 percent from deep.

The Pelicans have lost three of their first five games and are considered one of the teams in the conversation for one of the bottom Western Conference playoff seedings. It's way too early in the season to tell where either club winds up once all 82 games are in the books, but the seven and eight seeds are often decided by a few games.

There's no reason to call this a "big game" now, but in the grand scheme this is a great opportunity for the Lakers to ride the momentum instead of nose dive into the hardwood like they did against the Golden State Warriors.

Either way, it's Friday. Let's enjoy some basketball from the Lakers -- a team that has done much better than most anticipated to start the season. There's a chance the team could be headed into a home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday with a positive record, another team expected to be in the hunt for a playoff berth.

On This Soundtrack:

Metallica - Ride the Lightning


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