The New Orleans Pelicans actually won a game. It happened. Now to turn one win into a winning streak. Between the Pelicans and their second victory of the season lie the baby Los Angeles Lakers. Fox Sports New Orleans will have the game at 6:00 PM Central and WRNO 99.5 FM is your local radio broadcast destination.
New head coach Luke Walton has the Lakers playing fast and fun again. Five different players, including 20 year old D’Angelo Russell, are averaging at least 14 points per game. Los Angeles ranks 3rd in pace while also ranking 12th in both offensive and defensive rating according to Basketball Reference. Not bad for a first year head coach starting two players younger than Pelicans rookie Buddy Hield.
Oddly the Lakers keep the pace up while also crashing the offensive glass, ranking 8th in the league in offensive rebounding rate. Timofey Mozgov, Julius Randle, and reserve Tarik Black all crash ferociously, so if the Pelicans elect to go small (and if you’re new, Alvin Gentry needs no excuse to do so), trying to finish a possession may prove to be difficult. As the Milwaukee Bucks demonstrated in the fourth quarter by posting an absurd 44.4% OReb%, the Pelicans failed to do an acceptable job on the with their small ball lineup.
What to watch for
Who starts?: Gentry has used four different starting lineups through nine games. Does he change it up again? Walton will likely start Mozgov, which does not necessarily mean New Orleans responds with Omer Asik. A return to the “standard” starting lineup of Tim Frazier, E’Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill, Anthony Davis, and Asik could be the most probable option, but I wouldn’t make a bet on who begins the game Saturday night.
On a hilarious note, that starting lineup has already logged 76 minutes together and posted a roughly even (+0.1) net rating. Just two lineups logged more than 76 minutes together all season last year.
Anthony Davis is gonna eat: There are no good options on the Lakers roster to guard Davis. He will dominate Julius Randle, cook Mozgov in the high post, and shoot right over Luol Deng’s head. It will be interesting to see if Larry Nance Jr. gets some time on Davis or if rookie Brandon Ingram gets a couple reps. However, expect the Lakers to throw everyone at Davis and dare the Pelican role players to win the game. Even then, Davis will get his, and do so efficiently.
Defending D’Angelo: Russell scored 32 points on the Pelicans last April. During most of that game, Gentry tried to hide Tim Frazier and gave James Ennis (now with Memphis) the responsibility to defend such a large point guard. The two options in the backcourt, Frazier and Moore, are going to invite Russell to go to work. Buddy Hield is a rookie and Langston Galloway is also lacking in the height department. If the Pelicans try to double then they must rotate after the ball; if they don’t expect a heavy dose of post-ups for the young Laker point guard.
What: Pelicans vs. Lakers
Where: The Smoothie King Center - New Orleans, LA
When: November 12, 2016 at 6:00 PM Central
How: Fox Sports New Orleans or WRNO 99.5 FM