Lakers vs. Pelicans Game Preview: Lakers Face New Look Pelicans

Pelicans MascotTonight will be the final game in a tough three game road trip. Unfortunately, Nash is not expected to play tonight so the Lakers will rely on Farmar to run the point. This is the first matchup for the Lakers against the new name/look Pelicans.

Aside from having one of the most horrifying mascots ever, the Pelicans have a very promising young nucleus. In the offseason the Pels made a trade for All Star Jrue Holiday and former fourth overall pick Tyreke Evans which shows that they’re in win-now mode. The last time New Orleans made the playoffs was in 2010-11 when they lost to the Lakers in the first round. Three years later the franchises are going in completely different directions; the Lakers are rebuilding while the Pelicans are trying to become contenders. Let’s jump right into the analysis of tonight’s matchup.

Frontcourt: Honestly the Pelicans don’t really have a true center. Jason Smith starts at the five, but he’s really just a place-holding big body until Ryan Anderson returns. No doubt that Smith works his butt off, but he doesn’t possess the talent of a starting NBA center. Pau Gasol should look to exploit this matchup. I boldly predict that Anthony Davis will be an All Star this year. He’s showing everyone why he was a number one overall pick with averages of 21.2 points, 11.4 boards, 4 blocks and 2.2 steals. Davis is in all out beast mode and he’s asserted himself as one of the NBA’s future stars. Aminu starts at the three due to his defensive prowess, but Evans gets the bulk of the minutes at the small forward position. Evans struggled early on in the season but recently has settled into his role as a sixth man. Tyreke has an uncanny ability to get to the rim but he’s a below average jump shooter. Xavier should force Tyreke to score with his shooting and prevent him from getting into the lane.

Backcourt: Jrue Holiday was one of the biggest off-season moves the Pelicans made. Unfortunately Jrue hasn’t played up to expectations with averages of 13.8 points on 38.2% FG and 6 assists. There will be some growing pains with Jrue and one would expect that he will get better throughout the season. Eric Gordon is finally healthy enough to play after missing all of 2011 and half of last season. EG has been relatively productive with 16.6 points and 1.8 threes per game. He’s a pure shooting guard and isn’t much of a passer. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Lakers to attempt to double and trap him if he keeps shooting. Off the bench Brian Roberts relieves Jrue at the point and he’s probably one of the most underrated backups in the League. Roberts is efficient and rarely makes mistakes.

Key to Lakers’ Victory:
Defense! Honestly if the Lakers want to have an average season they will need to exert much more effort on defense. The Lakers have given up over 120 points twice in the first five games. That doesn’t bode well for the future because while this team may be capable of scoring 105 points per game, they won’t win if they give up 115+.

Pau Gasol: With Kobe out and Nash nursing injuries, Gasol is the undeniable star of this team. He needs to seize that mantle and look to lead this team to victory every night. To be blunt Pau has been disappointing this year. He’s only managed 14.6 points on a dismal 41% shooting. Coach D’Antoni needs to utilize Pau on the elbow and allow him to make plays. In terms of rebounding Pau has dont a fair job on the defensive glass collecting 10.4 boards per game.

Who Will Emerge Tonight? The Lakers will need scoring and defense from their supporting cast if they hope to earn a win. Xavier, Young, Meeks and Farmar have all played well on offense – all averaging more than 10 points per game. Wes Johnson has been the Lakers best defender and Jordan Hill has leads the team with 3 offensive boards per game. The great thing about this Lakers team is that if they win it’s usually because of a full team effort. I think they get that and it’s truly enjoyable to watch when they put it all together and play like one unit.

Los Angeles Lakers (3-3) at New Orleans Pelicans (2-3)
5:00 PM PST, November 8, 2013
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, LA
TV: TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Pelicans Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Eric Gordon
SF: Al-Farouq Aminu
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Jason Smith

Key Reserves: GF: Tyreke Evans GF: Anthony Morrow

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