If there's one bad team that hasn't ruffled the Pelicans feathers yet, it's been the Los Angeles Lakers. New Orleans has won both match-ups this season: a 109-102 win in November and a 104-87 domination in December.
As an added benefit, the Pelicans announced earlier in the day some good news on the injury front.
Anthony Davis (left toe sprain) has been upgraded to PROBABLE for tomorrow's game vs. LAL.— Pelicans PR (@PelicansPR) January 20, 2015
For their third installment, Kobe Bryant will probably be sidelined. Per Basketball Monster:
Bryant didn't practice on Tuesday and is considered questionable in advance of Wednesday's contest vs. the Pelicans. Coach Byron Scott had said he wanted Bryant to get in a light practice on Tuesday, but that obviously didn't happen and doesn't exactly bode well for his availability Wednesday. Bryant has missed eight of the Lakers' last 15 games due to rest. Scott said previously that he mistakenly gave Bryant too many minutes to start the season and he's now trying to make up for it with regular rest and a 32-minute cap on his playing time.
In their 8 games without Bryant, the Lakers have gone 2-6 with the wins coming against the Magic and Warriors. Yep, the team with the best record in basketball had 1 of their 6 losses on the season come against the Blue and Gold. Fortunately for us, we're no strangers to losing to subpar competition so at least you can bet the Pelicans won't be caught off guard. Not after Monday's loss to the worst team in basketball, the New York Knicks.
3 Keys to Victory
- Keep the Lakers on the perimeter. Their 2nd biggest form of offense comes through spot-ups, but they're below average, ranking 23rd. Without Bryant, the rest of the roster will be more reliant on creating their own shots. That's a problems considering their next best playmakers are Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Price.
- Crisp execution. The Lakers rank below average in nearly all facets of defense, save defending post-ups. Thus, the Pelicans have to ensure they don't beat themselves: limit the turnovers and seek shots from their comfort zones.
- Make life difficult for Nick Young. Without Bryant, the Lakers are heavily dependent on Young's scoring. In his last two games, he is averaging 23.5 points, 3 threes and 10 free throw attempts. Prior to that he had been cold as ice for most for January. Let's turn the switch back to the off position.