The Los Angeles Lakers close out their road trip on Saturday afternoon when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans.
Given the draft pick situation between these two teams and the current landscape of the Western Conference, this is a very important game for both.
The Pelicans come in having lost 10 straight games, really struggling in the absence of Zion Williamson, who remains out with a right hamstring strain. That freefall has allowed the Lakers to nearly catch the Pelicans in the standings.
With a win on Saturday, L.A. would improve to 26-28, the same record as New Orleans. The Pelicans have the right to swap first-round picks with the Lakers this summer due to the Anthony Davis trade so hopefully this is the first step toward passing New Orleans in the standings to ensure that doesn’t happen.
On the Lakers’ side of things, Austin Reaves remains out with a hamstring injury of his own although he could be returning soon. Russell Westbrook is playing despite previously being questionable with a non-COVID illness. Given the recent trade rumors surrounding Westbrook and Kyrie Irving, who is sitting out on Saturday, the speculation of a deal potentially being on the horizon should quiet at least momentarily.
In this game though, all eyes will be on LeBron James as he continues to approach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record. He is 63 points away from breaking the record, so it will be interesting to see how close he can get in this one before the Lakers return home on Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Davis has also looked like his usual dominant self the last couple of games, which is good to see after he missed so much time with a foot injury. There obviously is a personnel aspect of this game for Davis, who is returning to the city where he played his first seven seasons.
While Davis seems to be getting his rhythm back, Pelicans star and former Laker Brandon Ingram is looking to do the same after missing significant time with a toe injury. After shooting just 29.8% from the field in his first three games after returning, Ingram rounded into form with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists on 10-of-20 shooting on Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks.
Los Angeles Lakers (25-28) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (26-27)
3:00 p.m. PT, Feb. 4, 2023
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN2
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: LeBron James
PF: Rui Hachimura
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Troy Brown Jr., Lonnie Walker IV, Thomas Bryant, Wenyen Gabriel, Max Christie
Projected Pelicans Starting Lineup:
PG: CJ McCollum
SG: Herb Jones
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Trey Murphy III
C: Jonas Valanciunas
Key Reserves: Larry Nance Jr., Jose Alvarado, Kira Lewis Jr., Naji Marshall
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