Lakers go back on the road to take on Pelicans in New Orleans

The Lakers and Pelicans are both 33-35 going into Tuesday's game.

The Lakers are about to play the 69th game of the 2022-23 season and they are tangled up in this Western Conference web. Every day could change everyone’s fate. L.A. went from 11th to 9th in one fell swoop after the Utah Jazz lost to the Miami Heat on Monday night. The Lakers are one of three teams with a 33-35 record along with the Oklahoma City Thunder… and their opponents for Tuesday night, the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Lakers and Pelicans have played each other three times this season. The first went to the Lakers in an overtime game that saw Matt Ryan make a three to send it to said extra period. The second went to the Pelicans, who were riding a 10-game losing streak at the time. New Orleans took advantage of a bad Laker fourth quarter to get the W. And the third game happened right before the all-star break; L.A. led the entire game as the new guys made it easy for them.

I say this in every preview but this game is so important for the Lakers (and in fact, very important for the Pelicans as well). Unfortunately for New Orleans, they might have a higher hill to climb with all these injuries. Brandon Ingram has missed the last two games due to an ankle sprain. Jose Alvarado is also out with a leg injury while the team is hoping Zion Williamson comes back before the regular season ends. Of course, the question is will either of these teams play beyond April 9th (the last day of the regular campaign)?

Still, New Orleans is doing what they can. In their win against the Blazers last Sunday, Trey Murphy put in a career-best 41 points. CJ McCollum is averaging roughly 24-6-7 in the month of March while shooting .465 from three. And beyond those two, the Pelicans have plenty of talent in the big man Jonas Valanciunas (14.0 points, 9.6 rebounds per game), the physical Herb Jones, and perimeter defender specialist Josh Richardson. The Pelicans are in the Top 10 defensively and they do force a lot of turnovers. Yes, we associate Jose Alvarado with the sneaky steals but the whole team in general is filled with thieves.

While the Lakers fell short against the Knicks last Sunday, I still expect them to have a lot of confidence going into Tuesday’s game. Like I said, they led wire-to-wire against the Pelicans in their last game against each other. If they can keep the same energy like they did last February 15th, I like the Lakers’ chances of taking this one. Still, I do want Anthony Davis to impose his will as his game offensively has been… offensive the last two contests. They do have enough firepower but Davis has to keep the other team honest.

It’s gonna be an uphill climb for the Pelicans, especially if Brandon Ingram isn’t available. But we saw this story last Sunday when the Knicks didn’t have Jalen Brunson. And it’s the NBA (and sports in general). Games aren’t played in paper; games are played on the court. And the Lakers have to get it done on the hardwood and prove that they do belong in the play-in and the playoffs.

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