The Los Angeles Lakers are fresh off their 109-94 win against the Atlanta Hawks and look to begin a new streak this evening against Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Lakers got off to a slow start against Atlanta thanks to solid performances by former Lakers Kent Bazemore, who finished with 21 points, and Dwight Howard, who had 19 points to go along with his nine rebounds.
Nick Young returned to the starting lineup Sunday night, scoring 12 points in the second quarter and was three of four from behind the line during the first half, enabling the Lakers to turn a 13-point deficit to an 11-point lead.
From there it was the Lou Williams show. He scored 13 of his 21 points on the fourth quarter alone. Jordan Clarkson also added 18 points of his own courtesy of the bench mob. After only 18 games of this young season, the Lakers are already more than halfway towards their win total from a season ago.
This is no time for celebration as this rough early schedule for the Lakers continues with this four-game road trip in five nights. The first stop comes against the improving New Orleans Pelicans with superstar Anthony Davis, who are 4-2 since the return of point guard Jrue Holiday.
Even though Holiday has returned to the Pelicans, he is coming off the bench for the time being. That being said, he is clearly the best guard on the team, averaging 16.3 points and 6.5 assists in his six games back. He is playing 27 minutes a night so he will see plenty of court time.
As it currently stands, Tim Frazier is still running the show for the Pelicans. So far Frazier is averaging 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. E’Twaun Moore is the other guard for the Pelicans and he’s been solid as well averaging 11.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists.
Buddy Hield, the rookie sharp-shooter taken from the University of Oklahoma, will also be coming off the bench, but so far he’s struggled to find his shot.
Without D’Angelo Russell, who was outstanding in the first meeting between these teams, the pressure will now be on the rest of the Lakers guards to step up, but so far they have all been able to do so.
Nick Young returned to action in a big way on Sunday night, and Jose Calderon has been very solid as a starter, hitting jumpers and limiting turnovers. Both will need to maintain their level of play, as will the two guards off the bench, Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson.
Williams and Clarkson have both been outstanding all season and will need to continue against a Pelicans team in which they have the advantage in the backcourt talent-wise. Williams has been the Lakers’ closer all season so if things go down to the wire, look for him to take control.
Anthony Davis is one of the best players in the NBA and he has proven it with his numbers this year as he’s averaging about 31.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks. He is capable of putting up numbers no one else in the NBA can match.
Lining up alongside Davis is Omer Asik and Solomon Hill. Both Hill and Asik are more capable on defense than offense. Asik is a solid rim protector while Hill is a decent perimeter defender and slasher, but neither poses much of a threat offensively.
Julius Randle will return to the Lakers lineup after missing the last three games with a hip pointer. He gets a rough matchup in his first game back, but the Lakers will definitely be happy to get his playmaking back in the starting lineup.
Timofey Mozgov has been great for the Lakers, providing solid defense and rebounding, while also showing more than expected on offense as a finisher, shooter, and even some playmaking ability from time to time. Luol Deng still hasn’t gotten his offensive game together, but this could be a candidate for a breakout game as he won’t have the major defensive responsibility he normally does.
Of course, the Lakers still have their bench and Larry Nance Jr. has been even better in the last few games. His all-around play is key for the Lakers. Rookie Brandon Ingram has also increased his aggressiveness in recent games. Even though he is strugglig to hit shots consistently, he continues to make progress.
Keys to Victory:
Make Davis Share The Rock: Stats don’t lie, especially stats that look like they came straight out of NBA 2K17. Davis’ numbers are out of necessity as the rest of his team has been pretty subpar (outside of Holiday). The Lakers must put the pressure on the rest of the Pelicans to produce, and not let Davis control the game.
Get Out In Transition: In addition to his offense, Davis is one of the best rim protectors in the league as well. The Lakers should look to push, especially with Randle back in the lineup, and not let their defense set up as Davis can alter a lot of shots.
Keep Them Outside: The Pelicans are one of the league’s worst three-point shooting teams but are solid inside the paint. The Lakers have had issues protecting the paint, but if they can shore that up and keep the Pelicans shooting outside jumpers, they should have trouble putting up points.
Los Angeles Lakers (9-9) Vs. New Orleans Pelicans (6-12)
5:00 P.M. PST, November 29, 2016
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana.
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Pelicans Starting Lineup:
PG: Tim Frazier
SG: E’Twaun Moore
SF: Solomon Hill
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Omer Asik
Key Reserves: Jrue Holiday, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Terrence Jones
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Lou Williams, Tarik Black