New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers Preview
LeBron James and the NBA Finals have seemingly been synonymous the last few years. Not only are the finals not a guarantee for James and the Lakers, but the playoffs are certainly not a guarantee either. The Lakers may not be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but they’re trending in the wrong direction as they head into a home matchup tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Lakers are 29-31 on the season, on a two-game losing streak and are currently in 11th place in the Western Conference, which was probably not the expectation when Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka lured James to Hollywood over the summer. The Lakers are also 3-7 in their last 10 games, so they’ll need to go on a rally with just 20 games remaining on the regular season schedule.
The Pelicans are 27-35 on the season and sit in 12th place in the West. They have won four of their last ten games heading into tonight’s matchup.
In their last matchup, New Orleans won 128-115 just a few days ago on February 23. Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans with 27 points, while Brandon Ingram had 29 for the Lakers. They also faced off December 21, with the Lakers winning 112-104 as LeBron James had a triple-double and Kyle Kuzma had 23 points.
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Arena: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
Even with Anthony Davis playing limited minutes with New Orleans, the Pelicans have had some impressive performances lately. Aside from the win over Los Angeles, they had a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. They were also close to upsetting the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. Their late rally came up just short as the 76ers won 111-110.
In the loss, Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans with 22 points and seven assists and his backcourt-mate Elfrid Payton had 10 points and 14 assists. Whereas the lineup featuring Holiday and Payton was one that took some time to adjust to at the beginning of the season, Payton and Holiday have complemented each other well lately as they have both played to their strengths.
In 21 minutes, Anthony Davis had 18 points and six rebounds, and it seems Davis has had some trouble transitioning into this new role.
“I’ve never been a guy who sat in the fourth quarter so it’s a little tough, but you know I’ll sit on the bench and cheer for these guys. They did a good job,” Davis said recently.
Through all the drama that has surrounded Davis’ request to be traded, he has said he would do everything he could on the floor for the team, but the Pelicans are taking a cautious approach to keep Davis healthy before they open trade discussions in the offseason.
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
The Lakers are so up and down lately that’s it’s hard to get a read on them. They had a huge win over Houston last week and followed that with embarrassing losses to the Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Lakers all-star forward LeBron James has received the majority of the blame for the Lakers’ recent struggles after he seemed to be tied to the rumors surrounding the Anthony Davis trade attempts. He has been especially vocal of his teammates lately, which isn’t doing much to repair the chemistry issues that remained after the trade deadline.
“At this point, if you are still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, then this is the wrong franchise to be a part of,” James said recently. “You should just come and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this.'”
James had a triple-double in the loss to the Grizzlies with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. Brandon Ingram, who has performed well lately, scored 32 points and Kyle Kuzma had 22 points. That trio has consistently done well, but the rest of the supporting cast has not provided enough scoring help, although Reggie Bullock continues to play well on both sides of the floor. He had 14 points against Memphis.
New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds
The Lakers are 5.5 point favorites to win at home tonight. They are 17-12 at Staples Center and 20-16 as the favorite. New Orleans is 9-23 on the road and also 9-23 as the underdog.
The over/under is 239 points and the Lakers are -220 on the moneyline after opening at -235.
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