After two consecutive loses, the Lakers will look to get a win tonight as Anthony Davis and the Pelicans visit Los Angeles. The Pelicans are playing their second straight game in Staples Center after losing to the Clippers last night. Earlier this season the Pelicans edged the Lakers by a score of 109-102. A young team, the Pelicans lack depth and are probably a few years away from being a threat in the Western Conference. Let’s hope the Lakers can exploit the Pelican’s youth and earn a win tonight to close out the week.
Frontcourt: Anthony Davis is an early season MVP-candidate in his third year. He is posting eye-popping numbers of 25.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 2.3 steals. He’s a force of nature on both ends of the court. Davis possesses insanely long arms and has great athletic ability for a big man. Expect him to have a huge game against the Lakers limited frontcourt. Heck he has been destroying opponents on a nightly basis and it’s probably only a matter of time until he’s the best player in the NBA.
At center, Omer Asik helped anchor the Pelican’s frontcourt and his solid defensive play allows Davis to roam the sidelines for blocks. Asik is a great rebounder and he eats up space in the lane with his imposing size. Luke Babbitt was recently moved into the starting line-up. He’s a three-point threat and an above average shooter.
Back-up power forward Ryan Anderson is a huge part of the Pelican’s offense. He’s pours in 15.1 points and 2.2 threes off the bench. Anderson’s shooting abilities stretches the defense and gives the Pelican’s more room to operate in the paint.
Backcourt: Tyreke Evans spent some time at small forward this season, but was recently moved to shooting guard. He has had an up and down year and struggles greatly with turnovers and shot selection. Evans has a team high 3.1 turnovers per game and is only shooting 40.2 percent from the field. However, Evans put up 19 points and 11 assists against the Lakers earlier this season so the Lakers guards will need to do a better job of defending him tonight.
No stranger to Los Angeles, Jrue Holiday, the former UCLA star is the Pelicans starting point guard. He leads the team in assists with 6.5 helpers per game and he is getting more opportunities to score with Eric Gordon sidelined. Holiday’s main focus is getting the superstar Davis the ball in scoring position.
Keys to Victory:
Defense: The Lakers are still the worst defensive unit in basketball. They give up 112.1 points per 100 possessions and they allow their opponents to convert 48 percent of their field goals. In general, the team will not improve until their defense gets better. Tonight the Lakers need to key in on preventing Davis from getting the ball. If Davis gets enough touches he will surely annihilate the Lakers front line. They should force Evans and Holiday to beat them with their shooting and prevent them from getting into the lane.
Exploit The Pelican’s Second Unit: The Pelican’s bench unit is not very good defensively – it’s lead by Ryan Anderson, John Salmons and Austin Rivers. When their bench is in the game the Lakers need to take advantage and go on scoring runs. Nick Young should help in this respect.
Box Out Davis: Davis is a one-man wrecking ball and can single-handedly take over a game. The Lakers will need to box him out on both ends of the floor. Davis is infamous for making Sports Center with stunning logic-defying put-back dunks. If the Lakers let him roam the paint free he will surely make life difficult for them.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are 2.5-point underdogs against the Pelicans according to Sportsbook.ag.
New Orleans Pelicans (8-10) at Los Angeles Lakers (5-15)
6:30 PM PST, December 6, 2014
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Pelicans Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Tyreke Evans
SF: Luke Babbitt
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Omer Asik
Key Reserves: PF: Ryan Anderson G: Austin Rivers SG: John Salmons
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Ronnie Price
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Jordan Hill
C: Ed Davis
Lakers vs. Raptors: Kobe Bryant