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Preview: Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Previewing today's game pitting the Lakers against the New Orleans Pelicans

The Lakers (5-15) return home to host the New Orleans Pelicans (8-10) on Sunday night after a three-game road trip.

Coach Byron Scott vowed to change the team's starting lineup after a loss in Boston on Friday, although he didn't specify which starter, or starters, would be benched.

The Pelicans beat the Lakers by seven points in mid-November, led by Anthony Davis with 25 points and 12 rebounds on 12-of-16 shooting.  Davis also dominated defensively, blocking six shots.

All five Lakers' starters scored in double figures, led by Kobe Bryant's 33, but it wasn't enough for the victory.  The Pelicans lost at Staples Center on Saturday night to the Clippers, 120-100.

The Lakers will play without Xavier Henry (Achilles' tendon), Ryan Kelly (hamstring), Steve Nash (back) and Julius Randle (leg). The Pelicans are missing Eric Gordon (shoulder).

Key matchup

Dealing with Davis will be the trick for the Lakers on Sunday. The 21-year old forward-center might already be a top-five player in the NBA -- or higher.

Davis is averaging 25.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 2.3 steals a game while shooting 56.8% from the field and 76.2% from the line.

The Pelicans don't have enough depth around him to be a force in the Western Conference, but Davis makes his team competitive almost every night they play.

The Lakers need their own big men -- Jordan Hill, Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis and Robert Sacre -- to counter with strong performances.


Davis is a problem the Lakers have to work around. The key then becomes making sure his teammates are less efficient.

Off the bench, Ryan Anderson is a serious outside shooting threat. In November, he scored 17 points against the Lakers, making seven of his 12 shots.

With Gordon injured, the Pelicans need even more from guards Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday.

The Lakers have struggled defensively this season. Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryant, Ronnie Price, Wayne Ellington, Wesley Johnson and Nick Young all need to bring an inspired effort defensively on the perimeter.

Offensively, the Lakers will need to make some shots from the outside to get some spacing, given the Pelican's inside defensive pair of Omer Asik and Davis.


New Orleans is vulnerable, but then the Lakers are only 2-8 at home.

Put the Lakers down for this one, although their track record against the Western Conference (1-13) this season suggests otherwise.

As far as Scott’s lineup change?  Perhaps Ellington into the starting lineup with Bryant moving to small forward and Johnson to the bench – but that’s just a guess.

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

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