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Lakers vs. Pelicans Preview: Will Zion Williamson give L.A. problems?

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The Lakers will see Zion Williamson for the first time this season when the Pelicans visit on Tuesday.

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New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers will see a few friendly faces on Tuesday night, when they’ll host the Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and the New Orleans Pelicans for their third showdown of the season, and the matchup between the two teams will be anything but friendly.

Similar to the Lakers last year, the young Pelicans are looking to make a run at the eighth seed in the Western Conference with 25 games left in the regular season. They’re currently four games back of the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, but with Jaren Jackson Jr. out for at least two weeks with a knee sprain, there’s a window of opportunity for the Pelicans to close the gap, and they have the talent to do it.

Not only do the Pelicans have Ingram, who made his first NBA All-Star appearance in February, but they also have Zion Williamson, whose late-season return has changed the team’s fortunes for the better. In 12 games for the Pelicans, Williamson has averaged 22.8 points per game on 58.6% shooting from the field, and 7.2 rebounds per game. He’s dominating in a way that few rookies before him have, and the Pelicans are reaping the benefits.

However, as exciting as the Pelicans are, they’ve posed no real threat to the Lakers this season, dropping both of their previous matchups with them. While there’s a chance that Williamson will change that on Tuesday, it’s hard to imagine the Pelicans’ 23rd-ranked defense keeping up with the Lakers, who are ranked fourth in offensive rating and fifth in defensive rating. At the center of both of those team stats is the Lakers’ two-way superstar Anthony Davis, who was traded from New Orleans to Los Angeles last summer.

There’s no doubt that the game will be entertaining, especially with players on both teams trying to prove something, but there’s a good chance it ends the same way the last two games have: With a Lakers win.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m. PST, and the game will be televised nationally on TNT.

Notes and Updates

  • Markieff Morris will be available for Tuesday night’s game, although Frank Vogel said he doesn’t expect to play him “a lot,” and there’s no guarantee he plays at all. If Morris does play, the Pelicans’ forward rotation will be a good first test for him.
  • Morris’ addition will force Kyle Kuzma to play more minutes on the wing, something he says he’s looking forward to.
  • Anthony Davis is listed as probable to play on Tuesday night with a bruised right calf. Davis tallied 32 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

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.