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Pelicans desperately need in-rhythm Brandon Ingram to show against Lakers

LeBron James is going to handle his business. Will BI?

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans need to stop the bleeding in the worst way possible. They’ve plummeted down in the standings — falling even out of the playoff and play-in pictures — and are threatening to add their name to the most disappointing of lists.

For a team that started the season with a 23-12 record, the following 3-15 slide, which includes a current 10-game losing streak, has taken everyone by surprise. Posting a great regular season seems an impossible task now. The hope is just to rebound and find a way back inside the top 6 of the Western Conference.

Thankfully, only two games separate the Pelicans from the fifth seed and today’s opponent could be the lightning rod to get them back on track.

Nearly one year ago, the Los Angeles Lakers arrived in town. The Pelicans trailed them by half a game in the standings, precariously holding onto the 10th spot in the West. They went on to win 116-108 and that started a run of five wins in six games. They beat the Lakers an additional time during that stretch, cementing their place in the play-in tournament while helping knock L.A. out of the picture.

Only one game separates the Pelicans and Lakers currently. New Orleans would like nothing more than to get back in the win column while pushing Anthony Davis and company back down the ladder again.

One needs to look no further than at Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans need their available star to shine. Fortunately, he’s brought his A-game of late against the Lakers.

A patented Ingram game is likely a necessity because during the Pelicans’ current 3-15 stretch the Lakers have gone 10-7. L.A. hasn’t been special per se, as evidenced by a +0.1 net rating, but it’s far superior to New Orleans’ -7.1 net rating. And don’t overlook what a certain 38-year-old superstar has been doing on the court.

LeBron James has been fantastic since the start of December, averaging 32.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.6 assists. While the defensive numbers and three-point shooting is down, LeBron has led the Lakers to a 16-12 record in the games he’s appeared in since Dec. 1.

You can be sure that James will be ready. Will Ingram? BI has struggled in returning from a 29-game absence. While his averages of 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists look fine, the accompanying 4.3 turnovers and frightening shooting line (35.1 FG%, 17.6 3PT%) are alarming.

One bit of hope, Ingram seemed to find his old groove in the second half of Thursday’s loss to the Mavericks. He scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting and added seven rebounds and four assists in the game’s final 24 minutes.

The Pels, along with strong performances by the vast majority of the rotation, need in-rhythm Ingram to make an appearance the Lakers.

Let’s Geaux!!!

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (26-27) vs Los Angeles Lakers (25-28)

When: February 4, 5:00 p.m. CT

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, ESPN2, League Pass

Where to listen: WRNO 99.5

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.