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Anthony Davis returns to New Orleans a villain, and a winner

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Booing won’t bring him back, Pelicans fans.

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Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are in New Orleans to take on the Pelicans for a completely normal Wednesday night matchup with no notable storylines... unless you consider Anthony Davis making his return to “The Big Easy” for the first time since being traded in July notable. If so, then yeah — Wednesday night is a pretty big game.

Davis’ exit from New Orleans wasn’t exactly a painless one. For starters, Davis — the greatest player to ever wear a Pelicans uniform — requested a trade from the team. More often than not, that doesn’t sit well with fans.

As if that wasn’t enough to get Pelicans fans riled up, Davis wore a “That’s All Folks” t-shirt in his final game in New Orleans. Davis said he didn’t pick out his shirt that night, but even if that’s true, he had to know that fans were going to respond negatively to it.

For all of those reasons and more, Davis will receive thunderous boos from the crowd at the Smoothie King Center on Wednesday. It will mark the first time in his seven-year NBA career that he’ll play in a truly hostile environment, but his teammates think he’ll have no problem playing through it.

After the Lakers’ 114-104 win over the Spurs on Monday, Kyle Kuzma told reporters that he expects Davis to be as dominant as he’s been every night this season in spite of the boos (via Spectrum SportsNet):

“He’s a big boy. He can handle it. Obviously, there’s going to be some noise, but that’s just how fans are... The good thing is once the game starts it’s strictly basketball. I wouldn’t boo him, because he’ll probably get buckets.”

Let’s hope Kuzma’s right, because the last thing Twitter needs on the night before Thanksgiving is Pelicans fans boasting about how their team beat the Lakers to bump their record to an astounding seven wins and 11 losses.

Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. PST on ESPN.

Notes and Updates

  • Lonzo Ball was sent home from the Pelicans’ practice with a stomach virus on Tuesday, and he will miss the game against the Lakers. Alternatively, Josh Hart has been listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain.
  • Anthony Davis expects the trio of former Lakers to give their former team the best they have to offer on Wednesday: “Those guys are going to try to take our heads off just to prove a point.” He also knows to expect boos.
  • In 13 appearances with the Pelicans, Brandon Ingram is averaging 26.1 points per game on 50.6% shooting from the field, including 45.9% from behind the arc on 5.7 attempts per game. His previous season-high for 3-point attempts per game was 2.4. He looks really good, and the Lakers will have to lock in on defending him in his first game against his former team.

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