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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans look to further Los Angeles Lakers losing ways in prime time

The Lakers, mired in controversy and dismay, have fallen to 11th in the West. But this time, AD’s involvement could help them find the win column.

NBA: All Star Game-Team LeBron at Team Stephen Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night’s 128-115 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers was undoubtedly the most satisfying win of the New Orleans Pelicans’ season.

The roller coaster with Davis in tow reached a new level of hilarity as the Pelicans led by double-digits throughout with the Brow looking on from the bench due to ‘rest purposes.’ This much deserved night off was earned by his 25 minutes of action in the previous week of NBA action in two games (All-Star, Pacers).

In fact, our very own David Grubb revealed that Anthony Davis has been actively hurting the Pelicans in the past five games. Davis’ 111 Defensive Rating is third-to-last on the entire roster trailing just Jahlil Okafor and E’Twaun Moore during that time, and his -3.2 net rating doesn’t top the Pelicans five most positive players (Holiday - Payton - Clark - Miller - Diallo).

Those following New Orleans closely have not missed this crucial detail.

The Lakers’ performance aptly summarizes life with and without Davis at the helm, but also diminishes just how bad the Lakers have been.

In the past 13 games without Lonzo Ball, the Lakers have gone just 4-9 with a -16.8 margin of deficit, with losses to these Pelicans, the Hawks and the Grizzlies as well as a collective 65-point thrashing by the 76ers and Pacers. The 132-94 victory by the Pacers was the most lopsided defeat in Lakers’ history.

The Lakers did manage impressive victories over the Rockets and Celtics during that time, but the off court distractions of Lebron James and his confounding comments continue to add fuel to the fire.

“At this point, if you’re still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come in and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this,’ “ James said. “Seriously, if you’re distracted by playoff pushes ...”

James made these comments just minutes after yet another devastating loss to their postseason hopes, this time at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies. In that game, James’ impressive stat line masked his inefficiency (34.8% shooting), five turnovers and lackadaisical defense.

Before that, 2 Chainz instagram account revealed that Lebron was in the recording studio the night before sitting out against Golden State due to “load management” purposes.

“It’s how you approach the game every day,” Lebron continued. “It’s how you think the game every day. It’s how you play the game. It’s how you prepare for the game, and that’s not even like, when you get to the arena. That’s like way before that. Is basketball, is that the most important thing while we’re doing this? Is this the most important thing in your life at this time? Are you giving it all to that game?”

NBA Twitter had evidently had enough of Lebron’s unabashed finger pointing of his teammates, locking into him on the defensive end of the floor against Memphis:

So, as Anthony Davis suits up to face the Lakers in the Staples Center, the immoveable object meets the unstoppable force.

Can the Pelicans earn a victory with Davis in the lineup and further diminish any chances of a Lakers’ postseason berth? Or, will Rich Paul whisper some game saving bits of advice into Davis’ ear leading to much more of this.....?

Lost in all of this, has been the exceptional play of Jrue Holiday. The most underrated guard in the league has been asked to carry more responsibility, and he has done it with the best ball security of his career. Holiday’s 26.8% usage rate is his highest since November of 2017, and his 7.1 TOV ratio is the lowest since November of 2014!

His shooting has taken a dip during this time, falling to 42.8% in 10 games this month, but his +14.3 per 100 possessions continues to lead the entire team, easily bettering Davis’ second-best mark of +8.2.

Can Jrue and his Krewe do enough in the fourth to add to clamoring jeers in Los Angeles?

For more on this matchup, check out Grubb’s in-depth preview from last Saturday.

Starting lineups:

Pelicans: Payton - Jrue - Kenrich - Randle - Davis

Lakers: Ingram - Bullock - James - Kuzma - McGee

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (27-35) at Los Angeles Lakers (29-31)

Where: Los Angeles, CA, Staples Center

When: Wednesday, February 27, 2019. 9:30 PM CST