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Lakers vs. Pelicans Preview: Can L.A. slow down A.D.?

The Lakers will have a tough time leaving Staples Center with a win if Anthony Davis is cleared to play.

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New Orleans Pelicans v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the Los Angeles Lakers will have Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram back on the bench for their matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. The bad news is that it likely won’t matter if Anthony Davis is also cleared to play.

It’s not that the Pelicans are more talented Lakers, it’s just that L.A. doesn’t match up well with Davis. Granted, very, very few teams do, but it’s especially hard to imagine Kyle Kuzma or Tyson Chandler locking up A.D. even if he’s a little under the weather and did not come to Pelicans shootaround.

The closest thing the Lakers have to a Davis stopper is JaVale McGee, who will not suit up against the Pelicans with flu-like symptoms, per Lakers head coach Luke Walton. LeBron James, who is suffering from the same symptoms and did not participate in shootaround, will be a game-time decision.

Here’s the full injury report:

Davis is on New Orleans’ injury report as well, but he’s listed as questionable, as is Julius Randle, who will be making his return to Staples Center on Friday.

Usually when players return to their old teams, they play it off as just another game on the schedule, but not Randle. When Randle talked to Andy and Brian Kamenetzky of The Athletic about his return, he said had no problem admitting it’s a game he’s had circled on his calendar:

Looking ahead to Friday’s game at Staples Center, how emotional do you expect it to be for you?

I don’t think it’s gonna be emotional. Definitely appreciative of the fans and all of my teammates, for being able to watch me grow as a player my four years there. But it definitely will be a game where I have a lot of fun and definitely one I’ve been looking forward to.

Looking forward to it for what reason?

(Pause, then laughs) Basically, for obvious reasons. But like I said, since the (NBA) calendar came out, that was a game that I looked forward to, that I had marked down. So I’m excited.

If Randle is given the okay to play, that just gives the Lakers another problem in the front court.

Randle is, if nothing else, a bully in the paint. With the exception of maybe Chandler, there isn’t anyone on the Lakers’ roster that can make life hard on Randle on his way to the basket. That goes double if he’s had this game highlighted for months and is highly motivated to have a “revenge game” against his old team.

The Lakers will have their hands full with those two alone. Add Jrue Holiday, a two-way star, to that equation, and things aren’t looking great for L.A., who need a win after losing their last two games.

Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, when we’ll see if Lakers can rally despite playing a bit shorthanded and banged up.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Christian on Twitter at @RadRivas.

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