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Game Preview: Pelicans at Lakers

In the midst of a 4-game stretch against weaker opponents, the Pelicans have notched victories in their first two opportunities. Up next, the Lakers.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Since the calendar flipped to 2015, the Lakers have beaten a grand total of just two teams with records of .500 or better (CHI, MIL). They were a bad team when Kobe Bryant, Nick Young and others were healthy, but without them, their offense has been in the cellar. Thus, it's rather humorous that in their remaining 9 games on the season, 5 of them will appear on national television.

It's not entirely the schedule makers fault (premature April fools!), but Kobe Bryant going down with another season-ending injury wasn't in the rating worshippers' cards. With injuries ravaging the Blue and Gold, a bottom five finish in the league (and keeping their 2015 first round pick) seemed a given months ago. Sure enough, they're currently slated to finish with the NBA's fourth worse finish and are in no danger of falling out of the bottom 5.

One positive for their franchise has been the emergence of Jordan Clarkson, especially after fellow rookie Julius Randle was lost in the first game of the season. Although his outside shooting is a bit suspect, the rest of Jordan's game has good potential. The only question that remains is whether he'll stay at point guard or take over for Bryant some day out on the wing.

3 Keys to Victory

  1. Pound the inside. For some time, the Lakers have been starting an undersized front court consisting of Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black. Anthony Davis and Omer Asik should eat them alive, and Tyreke Evans shouldn't have any problems scoring from inside the lane.
  2. Close down the lane. The Lakers are not a good shooting team, and hence, they rely on shot attempts within close proximity of the rim. Simply, don't let them, or at the very least, contest everything nicely.
  3. Contain their PG's. In L.A.'s four wins in March, both Jeremy Lin (20/5/5) and Clarkson (16/7/5) averaged nice statistical games. As mentioned above, repeated entry into the paint area must be forbidden, but both players should be shadowed strongly around most parts of the floor to avoid creating for their teammates. Outside of this duo, the Lakers will have no other serviceable playmakers.

Geaux Pelicans!

What: Pelicans at Lakers

Where: The Staples Center

When: April 1st, 9:30 PM

How: Fox Sports New Orleans, NBA League Pass