Lakers hope to redirect course vs. Pelicans
The visiting New Orleans Pelicans will face the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday in a rematch of a game that appears to have altered the fortunes of each team.
The Pelicans ended a 10-game losing streak with a 131-126 home victory over Los Angeles on Feb. 4, with former Laker Brandon Ingram scoring 35 points. It remains Ingram’s highest-scoring game since he returned from a two-month absence caused by a left big toe contusion.
The Lakers returned home from that defeat and saw LeBron James set the NBA’s all-time scoring record three days later. But the loss at New Orleans also started a run in which Los Angeles has dropped four of five games, including a 127-115 defeat at Portland on Monday.
Now the Lakers and Pelicans will meet in their last game before the All-Star break.
The Pelicans will enter off a 103-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday that ended their six-game road losing streak. Ingram had 34 points on 14-of-24 shooting as CJ McCollum missed the game with a sprained right ankle.
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault heaped praise on the Pelicans’ level of play, calling them more “physical” and “alert” than his own team as New Orleans looks ready to climb up the Western Conference standings again.
The biggest reason for the charge forward has been the return of Ingram, who has averaged 25.1 points per game in the eight games he has been back on the floor.
The Lakers have been without James for the past three games because of a left ankle injury. As he pushed toward Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record, James averaged 33.9 points over his past 17 contests. He is scoring 30.2 points per game on the season.
Anthony Davis had 19 points and 20 rebounds against the Trail Blazers, but the Lakers had no answer for Damian Lillard, who scored 40 points. Portland led by as many as 27 points and hit 23 3-pointers in the game, 17 of them in the first half.
Aside from Davis, the Lakers got 22 points from Malik Beasley, 16 points from D’Angelo Russell and 13 points from Troy Brown Jr.
Los Angeles doesn’t necessarily have a lot of time to ease into a flow. The Lakers are in 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference, ahead of just the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets, but they are still within touching distance of the final play-in tournament spot.