The New Orleans Pelicans visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday in the second meeting of the season between the two clubs that engaged in a blockbuster trade last summer.
Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart will face the Lakers for the first time at Staples Center since they were shipped to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. The two teams met on Nov. 28, when the Lakers captured a 114-110 win in New Orleans behind Davis’ 41 points.
Both teams appear to have benefitted from the deal so far, but Davis’ addition has turned the Lakers into one of the NBA’s top clubs.
He scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Western Conference leaders held off a furious rally by the visiting Phoenix Suns in a 117-107 win for their third consecutive victory Wednesday. LeBron James recorded his eighth triple-double, with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists to help the Lakers avoid an embarrassing defeat.
Kyle Kuzma, who opened the new year as a blond, added 19 points and Avery Bradley finished with a season-high 18 points for the Lakers.
Los Angeles led by as many as 36 in the first half and were up by 22 heading into the fourth quarter before Phoenix cut the deficit to seven with about two minutes remaining. However, a layup and some clutch free throws by James clinched the win for the Lakers.
“We stopped playing on both ends of the floor,” said Davis, who managed just two points in the final quarter. “We started playing a lot of one-of-one. We completely stopped playing defense. … We turned the ball over. It’s good we got the win but we can’t allow ourselves to fall into a trap like that.”
Said James: “You always have to be engaged until the clock hits zero.”
Ball delivered his best game of the season Sunday, when the Pelicans rolled to a 127-112 victory over the Houston Rockets, who were without James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Clint Capela.
Ball had 27 points, 21 of those coming on a career-high seven 3-pointers, and 10 assists. Ingram also scored 27, while Jrue Holiday added 25 as the Pelicans won for the fifth time in six games after ending a 13-game skid.
“I know it wasn’t gonna happen overnight,” said Ball, who altered his shooting stroke last summer, according to NOLA.com. “This is a new shot for me. I’ll stay in the gym and keep improving it over time.”
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry noted Ball’s dedication into becoming a more consistent shooter from long distance.
“He’s put a lot of work into his 3-point shooting. I mean a lot of work,” said Gentry after the Houston win, according to NOLA.com. “Before practice. After practice. You saw the results tonight. He did a great job of getting his feet set and shooting the 3s. I was really happy with the pace he had us playing. Rebounding the ball. Pushing the ball. Dribble penetration.”
Ingram has enjoyed a breakout campaign, averaging 25.3 points per game. He averaged 18.3 points per game in 52 games last season with the Lakers.
–Field Level Media