clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lakers vs. Pelicans Preview: Battle down low

The Lakers will yet again need Anthony Davis on the floor with the tough and physical frontcourt of the New Orleans Pelicans coming to L.A.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

For the first time in this young 2022-23 season, you are reading a Los Angeles Lakers game preview while they are on a winning streak. Sure, most wouldn’t consider one win as a “streak”, but we have to celebrate these moments when we can get them (just as the team celebrated Darvin Ham’s first win as a head coach on Sunday night).

The win against the Nuggets was fun and all, but now, the Lakers must actually build one of those real winning streaks to get themselves out of the 1-5 hole they’ve dug themselves. It’s been discussed often that the beginning of the Lakers’ schedule would be full of tough opponents, with Wednesday’s game being no different with the 4-2 New Orleans Pelicans coming into town.

With steady improvements happening over the last couple of games behind Russell Westbrook’s move to the bench and some potential absences on the Pelicans’ side (more on that in the “Notes and Updates” section), the Lakers may actually have a chance on Wednesday.

They’ll have to try to get a victory against a franchise that has extra motivation to get a win against the Lakers given the history with Anthony Davis as well as that history resulting in a first-round pick swap between the two teams for the 2023 NBA Draft. If the Pelicans win, then that first-round selection of theirs only improves.

And speaking of AD, the Lakers will need him to play through that back injury of his yet again if they are to have a chance in this contest.

Anthony Davis’s tough assignment

After missing the Lakers’ game on Friday vs. the Timberwolves, Davis returned against the Nuggets on Sunday with similar grimacing he showed last Wednesday against the very same team, as his lower back issue that started in training camp really seems to be bothering him.

Credit to him for pushing through it in both games against the Nuggets, however, that back will be put to a much tougher test in this game than it was against the likes of Nikola Jokić and the other forwards for Denver.

If AD plays (he’s listed as questionable on the injury report although he had the same distinction coming into Sunday’s game), he will likely be matched up often with Pelicans starting center Jonas Valančiūnas.

Although Valančiūnas doesn’t have the same offensive or defensive skill as AD, he may have the same amount of toughness and muscle that will not bode well for AD’s back. Davis will have to keep him off the boards as much as possible, which will be hard given the fact that Valanciunas is tied for the 8th most offensive rebounds per game heading into Tuesday night’s action.

And then... there’s Zion Williamson.

Zion is back in a big way after missing the entire 2021-22 season, averaging 21.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game so far. Zion, as well as Brandon Ingram (who’s missed the past three games with a concussion), is a large reason for the Pelicans currently being ranked third in offensive rating in the league.

The Pelicans offense is mostly comprised of attempts at the rim, as they have the third-most field-goal attempts per game in the restricted area (the Lakers rank first). Most of those have come from Zion, who has had 77% (!!!) of his FGAs come in that area right at the rim.

It’ll be a team effort from the Lakers to stifle those attempts at the rim and collect the defensive rebounds once they do, however, most of that effort will need to come from The Brow himself. Hopefully, his back has responded well to two straight off days, allowing him to be as close to 100% as he can be to have the Lakers get to 2-5.

Notes and Updates

  • The Lakers will continue to be without Thomas Bryant and Dennis Schröder due to their respective thumb surgeries. We did receive an update on Schröder as he seems relatively close to returning with a re-evaluation coming in a week.
  • As noted previously, Davis will be listed as questionable for the game. LeBron James is probable with left foot soreness while Juan Toscano-Anderson is also probable (left ankle sprain). He will likely return after missing the past two games.
  • The Pelicans will certainly be without Brandon Ingram (concussion) as he did not travel with the team for this road trip. He’s listed as out on the report along with Kira Lewis Jr and E.J. Liddell (ACL injury recoveries). Herb Jones will be probable after missing three straight games due to a hyperextended knee.

The Lakers and Pelicans will tip off at 7:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on Spectrum SportsNet.

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

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Silver Screen & Roll Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Los Angeles Lakers news from Silver Screen & Roll