While the the Los Angeles Lakers are sitting comfortably atop the Western Conference, teams in the bottom half of the conference are fighting for a spot in the NBA playoffs, and one of the teams that’s hoping to proving themselves this year is the New Orleans Pelicans.
Last season — their first without Anthony Davis since 2012 — the Pelicans finished the regular season with a record of 30-52, which was the third-worst record in the Western Conference. After making some more changes in the offseason, which included trading away Jrue Holiday and acquiring Steven Adams, the Pelicans are still in that 13th spot in the west with a record of 4-6. They’ve lost four straight games.
They’ll be hoping to put an end to that losing streak on Friday, but they’ll have to go through the Lakers first, and as most teams have figured out by now, that’s easier said than done.
Like the Pelicans, the Lakers have a streak of their own going, except their streak is a winning streak. Not only have the Lakers won their last four games, but they also haven’t lost a game on the road this season. And the most impressive thing about thing about their hot start? LeBron James and Davis have averaged under 32 minutes per game so far. They’re somehow coasting and dominating at the same time. Wild.
The Lakers shouldn’t take the Pelicans lightly, though. Unlike many of the teams the Lakers have seen so far this season, the Pelicans have the size to compete with the likes of Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol in the paint.
Zion Williamson will be an especially good test for Davis and Gasol because of his unique combination of strength and speed. Williamson has averaged 21.9 points per game on 55.7% shooting from the field while also averaging 8.1 rebounds per game. Williamson’s 21.9 points per game only trail Brandon Ingram, who’s maintained his All-Star level play this season.
The Pelicans might not be a better team than the Lakers, but it’s safe to assume they’ll play with more energy than the Houston Rockets or Oklahoma City Thunder did in the last three games. The Lakers will have to be ready for that when the two teams tip-off at 7:00 p.m. PT on ESPN.
Notes and Updates
- The Lakers still have a lengthy injury report ahead of this one.
Lakers list Anthony Davis (lower back tightness), LeBron James (left ankle sprain) and Wes Matthews (right Achilles soreness) as questionable vs. Pelicans.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) January 15, 2021
KCP is probable.
Kostas Antetokounmpo (right knee patellar tendinitis) and Jared Dudley (right calf soreness) are out.
We’ll see who can give it a go for sure closer to the game (Update: Davis will play).