- After loss to Clippers, Pelicans try to salvage LA trip against NBA-leading Lakers
- New Orleans has lost four straight, Los Angeles has won four straight
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
The New Orleans Pelicans need a win to get right and snap a four-game losing skid.
They’re probably in the worst possible place to do that Friday night — a date with the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers, who happen to be riding a four-game winning streak and the best record in the NBA.
Pelicans vs Lakers Odds
|New Orleans Pelicans||-8.5 (-110)||+295||NA|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+8.5 (-110)||-370||NA|
Odds from FanDuel taken January 14 Tip-off is Friday at 10pm ET
But in this goofy start to the NBA season, perhaps some Lakers dealing with nagging injuries could level out the playing field.
The Champs Are Cruising
Forget about the title hangover, the Lakers are getting it done, and their latest streak has been mostly with ease. After a close one against the Bulls (minus Anthony Davis), LA has mashed their opposition, laying to waste the James Harden era in Houston with crushing back-to-back losses before drilling the Thunder last time out. Their smallest margin of victory was 17 points.
LEBRON DID THE CURRY NO-LOOK THREE 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Ctm3uHJW2q
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 13, 2021
For the year, the Lakers are in the upper crust of every offensive category. They’re seventh in scoring at 115.7 points a game, second in field goal percentage (49.3%), third in three-point shooting (39.6%) and third in rebounding at 48.8 per contest.
But they’re doing it on both ends: the Lakers lead the NBA in defensive rating and are tied with Utah for tops in defensive rebounding, while ranking third in points allowed per game at105.2. It’s a big reason why they’re second only to Milwaukee in point differential this season at +10.5.
Great defense leads to great offense.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 11, 2021
And here’s the scary part: they’re doing it with LeBron James playing his lowest total minutes per game in his career, at just under 32 a night. This was a team that used to crater with James off the floor (a tradition of most of his teams). And they’re not leaning on Anthony Davis as the workhorse either. James is currently 61st in minutes played, AD is 63rd, also under 32 a night.
Lakers vs. Pelicans injury report:
Kostas (right knee patellar tendinitis), Jared Dudley (right calf soreness) are out
AD (lower back tightness), LeBron (left ankle sprain), Wesley Matthews (right Achilles soreness) are questionable
KCP (left ankle sprain) is probable
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) January 15, 2021
About the only thing that could slow them are injuries, as both stars were listed on the injury report. It’s why the betting lines were on hold until late Thursday night for this matchup.
Pelicans Still Down Bodies
It’s hard enough to win in the NBA, it’s even harder when you’re dealing with a decimated roster. That’s what the Pelicans faced when they lost to the Clippers Wednesday night.
Zion Williamson was a no-go for COVID protocols, the first game he’s missed this season. Injuries zapped their starting backcourt as well, with Lonzo Ball out with a knee injury and Eric Bledsoe missing the game with an eye infection. Ball has already been ruled out, and Bledsoe is still questionable Friday.
ZION WILLIAMSON. Cheat code da natureza. pic.twitter.com/eJvMN7Gj19
— Matchup Brasil 🇧🇷 (@MatchupBR) January 9, 2021
The good news is Zion will be in action. He’s second in scoring at 21.9 a game and a necessary wingman to Brandon Ingram, who leads the team in scoring (24.3 points) and assists (5.5).
A team that’s been pretty solid defensively under Stan Van Gundy, ranking seventh in points allowed per game at 107, New Orleans has seen that figure rise to 114.5 across their four losses. Unfortunately, they are a work in progress on the offensive end too, ranking just 25th in points scored at 107 a game.
Stan Van Gundy still has faith on the Pelicans' defense.
He believes Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Steven Adams and Josh Hart can help lead the team in doing so 😤 pic.twitter.com/2LMo91qO3a
— Pelicans Nation (@PelsNationCP) January 10, 2021
Their most glaring struggle is from deep, with the team shooting a league-worst 32.5% from beyond the arc. Only Bledsoe at 37.8% is even above average of their major-minute guys. Known marksman JJ Redick is at a disappointing 29.4% clip.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 14, 2021
However, Nickeil Alexander-Walker showed he might be due more minutes as an answer for the long distance woes. With Ball and Bledsoe out, he potted 37 points against the Clippers, including 5-for-8 from distance.
What’s The Best Bet?
I’d bet that one of James and Davis will play. There is plenty of talent to absorb a star down for one game between Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Talen Horton Tucker and others.
Against a struggling NOLA side, that’s still advantage Lakers. The Pelicans’ lack of outside shooting should allow LA’s defense to tighten the screws on Ingram and Williamson, making for another tough night for the Pels.
The pick: Lakers -8.5 (-110)
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