The daily preview muscles into the paint with NBA tips for a Western Conference showdown between LA Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans.
14:00 (AEDT), Sat 16th Jan @ Staples Center
History: Played 67: Lakers 43 V Pelicans 24
Last meeting: March 1, 2020: Lakers 122 d Pelicans 114 at Smoothie King Arena
Final Thoughts: The dominant LA Lakers host a New Orleans outfit striving to end a four-game losing streak. This will be hoop fans’ third look at budding superstar Zion Williamson up against the great LeBron James.
The 10-3 Lakers have won eight of their last nine. Their three wins in the past five days – two against the Rockets in Houston, and versus the Thunder away – came by 17-plus margins. LeBron James (26 pts, 6 reb, 7 ast) led a 128-99 thrashing of OKC two days ago, while Montrezl Harrell (21 pts, 6 reb) was impressive off the bench.
Now 7-0 on the road, the Lakers are just 3-3 at Staples so far this season. After two straight home losses they squeaked past the Bulls 117-115 a week ago.
The 4-6 Pelicans have lost their last four to the Pacers, Thunder, Hornets and Clippers by eight points or less. A clash with the Mavericks earlier this week was postponed due to COVID-19. With Williamson out, Nickell Alexander-Walker went off for a Pelicans season-high 37 points in a 111-106 defeat to the Clippers two days ago.
Williamson, who is set to return today, and Brandon Ingram are progressing well. But the youthful Pels are lacking offensive consistency and their three-point percentage is the worst in the NBA.
The Lakers are the league’s top-ranked defensive team and fourth offensively (including the best shooting percentage in the NBA).
Lakers shoot for seven in a row against Pelicans
The Lakers have won their last six straight against the Pelicans. But last season’s four victories were all decided by 10 points or less. Williamson scored 29 and 35 points in his first two matches opposite LeBron, who scored 74 points across the two games – including a triple-double.
James and ex-Pelicans marquee man Anthony Davis were listed as questionable but both are expected to play. Lonzo Ball also remains sidelined for the Pelicans.
New Orleans have been competitive despite stringing losses together. But the Lakers have been in ruthless form and the Nets’ big trade will only spur them on more to make another big statement.
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