According to the TV Guide, the New Orleans Pelicans (15-17) are supposed to tip off against the Los Angeles Lakers (18-13) at 9:30 p.m. Central tonight, but it’s probably a safe bet the game will come secondary to all of the ways ESPN can conjure up of getting Anthony Davis into a blue and gold uniform alongside LeBron James before the upcoming trade deadline.
Think I’m being too harsh?
Well, here’s some cold water.
Prior to opening night on the schedule for both the New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets, the NBA Countdown panel talked at length about Anthony Davis leaving the Crescent City. In fact, Davis’ imminent departure has been featured every time the Pelicans have played on the narratives-reign-supreme network this season.
Look, there’s no doubt the clock is ticking — that would be the case for any superstar who has found himself with an organization that has failed to experience a great amount of success; however, there’s really no need to actively promote something that may or may not happen until July at the earliest. Davis is committed to New Orleans for the season and the front office will not entertain any trade ideas before then.
And no, this isn’t denial speaking but rather common sense and an angry migraine. No one would need to be reminded every day that all life will cease once a killer asteroid is discovered to be on a direct path with Earth. Just give us the approximate date and time of the collision and provide us with any and all important updates.
Getting back to our reality, ”That would be amazing, like, duh. That would be incredible,” does not constitute some new development. Yet it’s launched a gazillion articles. Talking heads across the NBA spectrum have been busy analyzing and discussing the inane.
Anyways, there will be a basketball game played in the background and an important one at that. The Pelicans are coming off two straight losses and have been trending downwards ever since winning six of seven in the middle of last month. They need to turn the season around quickly before falling too far behind the playoff pack in the West.
One would assume slowing down LeBron James is the biggest key, but in reality you’ve got to pile up the points efficiently to knock off L.A. In their wins, the Lakers defense has shined, holding opponents to 103.1 points and a 42.6% field goal percentage. If these guys are engaged on that end of the floor, it makes for tough sledding.
The best way for New Orleans to circumvent a defensive struggle is to get back to owning the paint. The Pelicans have been at their best when they decidedly outscored the opponent in points in the paint. For instance, they made a season-best 19 three-pointers in Milwaukee a few days ago yet still lost. The well dried up at an inopportune time in the game while the Bucks continued to attack the rim throughout. Milwaukee wound up outscoring the Pelicans 54-38 in the paint and got to the free throw line 15 more times.
If Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle are out again, the coaching staff may once again opt to play small. However, that plan has a good chance of backfiring against a Laker team that loves to get out and run in transition. Plus, let’s hope that surprise contributor Jahlil Okafor and his 17 points in 13 minutes against the Bucks remains fresh in a lot of minds. When he sat down for good with 5:45 left in the third quarter, the Pelicans were ahead by six. New Orleans lost by a disheartening eight.
For as great as Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday are, deep perimeter shooting are not their fortes. Also, if AD is floating out on the perimeter too much, he can’t be in position to grab offensive rebounds or get to the line at a good rate. Darius Miller launching 11 threes is fine but AD and Jrue putting up nine attempts seems like too bold of a strategy for this New Orleans team.
Get back to doing you and geaux Pels!
Where To Watch
What: New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers
Where: Staples Center
When: Friday, December 21, 2018, 9:30 p.m. Central
How: ESPN, 99.5 FM WRNO