The New Orleans Pelicans head to Los Angeles with a 27-34 record and 9-23 on the road. They take on a LA Lakers team that is 29-30 and 17-12 at home. Both teams are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Clearly the Lakers are looking for revenge following a 128-115 road loss to the Pelicans a few days ago. Jrue Holiday lead the way in that one, gashing the Lakers with 27 points and five three-pointers made.
Examining the teams statistically, both struggle on the defensive end. The Lakers are 23rd in points allowed per game, while the Pelicans are 27th. The Pelicans are fourth in the league in scoring, despite 21st in turnovers. This is likely due to their strong rebounding, ranked fourth in the NBA. Los Angeles has even more troubles taking care of the ball, ranked 29th in turnovers, but they are also among the best rebounding teams in the league.
New Orleans relies heavily on the trio of Anthony Davis, Holiday and Julius Randle. Davis is averaging 27.8 points and 12.8 rebounds, while Holiday is the floor general with 7.9 assists per game and 21 points. Randle quietly racks up 20 points and nine rebounds per night. New Orleans could be without their best long range threat, E'Twaun Moore, who is day-to-day with an injury. The offensive production drops significantly from the top three. Elfrid Payton drops about 10 per game, however Kenrick Williams, Frank Jackson and Ian Clark combine to score 16 per game.
LeBron James is back and leading the Lakers with 26.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. Kyle Kuzma has been excellent and the youngster is averaging 19 points and almost six assists per game. Brandon Ingram adds 17.5 points, while center JaValle McGee puts up a solid 11 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Veteran Rajon Rondo is an asset in the back court both defensively and dishing out assists, while Reggie Bullock has provided excellent long range shooting in his short time with the team.
The game is likely to be high scoring and closer than the previous meeting. New Orleans won by 13 last time but are very poor on the road. Although the big three of Davis, Holiday and Randle will keep the game closer for some time, the Lakers are deeper and have a decided home court edge. LeBron and the Lakers should walk away with a win to maintain in striking distance in the Western Conference playoff race.