Returning home from a big win Wednesday night against the Grizzlies, the Pelicans will face the Lakers tonight. They are coming off quite a victory themselves, having beaten the Rockets yesterday on a last second three by Steve Blake. For much of the game, the Lakers held onto a sizable lead, thanks to a high scoring offense, but Houston stormed back in the 4th. The Lakers saving grace? Hack-a-Dwight. Yes, D'Antoni finally got to make use of this effective strategy, that many a team took advantage of a season ago against him.
In all probability, Steve Nash will sit this one out. The Lakers have stated they are going to monitor his minutes, and that includes the full Eric Gordon treatment -- avoiding back-to-back games. Look for Steve Blake to shift over to PG and either Jodie Meeks or Xavier Henry draw the start at SG. However, more than likely, Jordan Farmar will play heavy minutes and will present the biggest challenge to our backcourt. With a hobbled Nash and no Kobe Bryant, he is perhaps their most dynamic playmaker. Corral him and the Lakers will have to shoot at a high clip to pull out a win.
Then again, that may not be as difficult as it seems. The Pelicans have failed to defend the prime areas of the floor well the majority of the time and tonight represents a solid challenge to that task. If we largely keep Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman shooting jumpers from midrange, close the lane to Farmar and Henry and keep Meeks, Young and Blake off balance enough from deep, this game will be filed under the win column.
Speaking of Henry, it's good to see his health and conditioning has vastly improved and he's played his way into the rotation in Los Angeles. Would still prefer though, to see him clang the ball off the rim Friday, for old time's sake.
Earlier this morning, Ryan Anderson's status was upgraded to day-to-day, but don't expect to see him enter the game at any point. After a hard practice yesterday, the pain in his toe flared up. Hopefully, it subsides quickly, but what appeared to be an imminent return, now seems to be at least several games away again. Boo.