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Preview: Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans

The last time the Lakers won three straight games was in mid-November.

On Tuesday, they have the chance to do it again -- for just the season time this season -- hosting the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on Wednesday night.

The Lakers (21-39) defeated the Sacramento Kings on Friday and the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday. The Pelicans (23-37) also played on Monday, losing in Sacramento.

New Orleans has struggled of late, losing eight in a row.

All-star Anthony Davis is playing through a shoulder injury but Ryan Anderson (back), Jrue Holiday (knee) and Jason Smith (knee) are all expected to sit out for the remainder of the season.

The Lakers are still without Nick Young (knee), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation), and Kobe Bryant (knee).

Key matchup

In just his second year, Davis is one of the league's top forwards.

Through 52 games (missing eight), Davis has averaged 20.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He's shooting 51.9% from the field and, as the blocks statistic suggests, is an aggressive defender.

The Lakers' Pau Gasol has more experience and size, but Davis has youth and athleticism.

Gasol has averaged 17.2 points a game with 10 rebounds a night but has shot 47.6% from the field.

Davis plays some center but starts at power forward. Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni is likely to stick with Wesley Johnson at the four in a small-ball lineup.

The Pelicans have started Alexis Ajinca for 21 games.

X-factor

Eric Gordon is the Pelicans' leading scorer from the perimeter, averaging 15.5 points a game.

New Orleans is one of the better three-point-shooting teams in the league (37.8%), led by Gordon's 40.9%.

Jodie Meeks has arguably been the Lakers' most consistent player this season, contributing 14.9 points a game on 46.1% shooting from the field and 39.9% from three-point range.

Outlook

If the Lakers are thinking lottery position, they're going in the wrong direction with the recent win streak.

The Pelicans have fallen out of the playoff hunt, now just two wins ahead of the Lakers in the standings.

With both teams on a back-to-back, the Lakers should have the advantage over New Orleans.

ALSO:

Lakers rally in second half to beat the Kings, 126-122

Knicks sign former Lakers Earl Clark and Shannon Brown

Xavier Henry makes second D-Fenders appearance, has 19 points in loss

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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