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Lakers vs. Pelicans Preview: A chance to bounce back at home

After a loss to the Nuggets, the Lakers look to get back in the win column against the team they’re trying to catch in the standings in the Pelicans.

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Lakers are back at it on their home floor against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night after falling short to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. This will be the L.A.’s third meeting with the Pelicans, who they’re trying to catch for that sixth spot in the Western Conference standings.

Start time and TV schedule

Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans

When: 7:30 p.m. PT, Feb. 9.

Where: Arena

Watch: NBA TV, Spectrum Sportsnet

For the second time in a row against the Pelicans, the Lakers will be on the second night of a back-to-back. The fact that they’re playing on the back end of a back-to-back in this one is worth emphasizing because not only do the Lakers have a record of 2-6 in those this season, but that was a huge factor as to why they lost to the Pelicans on the road on Dec. 31.

There’s also no sugarcoating the fact that Friday’s game is also going to be a little more challenging for the purple and gold who have had a tough 24 hours. They suffered another unfortunate blow by losing Max Christie to a sprained ankle which meant the Lakers were down five rotation players on Thursday.

So there’s a good chance that a fatigued and unhealthy Lakers team will show up on Friday night against the Pels. If D’Angelo Russell — who was a late scratch on Thursday due to left knee soreness — isn’t good to go again for this one, the purple and gold will once again miss his scoring production. Jarred Vanderbilt’s absence will also be greatly felt in this one, specifically against Brandon Ingram and the Pelicans’ wing players.

However, if Los Angeles somehow finds a way to play with the energy and effort they showed on Thursday in this one, then they have a shot to win, despite the dispiriting loss on the night the Lakers unveiled Kobe Bryant’s statue.

Speaking of the Pelicans, note that this is a completely different team compared to what we saw in the semifinals of the In-Season Tournament. They went from the play-in tier of the Western Conference standings to the sixth seed in less than a month and a half. They’ve won six out of their last 10 games and are coming off a feel-good victory against the Clippers on Wednesday.

Led by Ingram and Williamson, NOLA has been playing good team basketball as of late and has the height and defense to impose problems on this unhealthy Lakers team. Remember, it was CJ McCollum who killed the Lakers in their last matchup with 22 points and six made three-pointers, so LA has to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

The Lakers will have to keep up against the Pels by knocking down their shots — something they didn’t do so well against the Nuggets — and avoid having breakdowns on defense especially now that their margin for error is so thin.

Given how this team has performed on back-to-back games this season, Friday’s game is looking like a difficult one but one that’s not impossible to win. Let’s see if the Lakers can bounce back from a tough loss against the Nuggets and get back in the win column by beating the Pelicans on Friday.

Notes and Updates:

  • The Lakers have yet to release an injury report for Friday’s match but it’s safe to say that Christie will probably be added to the report now with a sprained ankle. Expect Jarred Vanderbilt (right foot soreness) Cam Reddish (right ankle sprain) and Gabe Vincent (left knee surgery) to be out. The status of Russell moving forward remains uncertain.
  • Speaking of Russell’s absence, the Lakers are now 0-5 when he doesn’t suit up this season. That’s how important the point guard is to the roster this season.
  • After Friday’s game against the Pels, the purple and gold will have a three-day break before they play again on Tuesday. They will then play back-to-back on Valentine’s Day.
  • As for the Pelicans, Zion Williamson (bone bruise), Jonas Valanciunas (right calf contusion), Naji Marshall (lower back spasms) are all noted as questionable.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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