Preview: Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Lakers start the final month of the season hosting the Pelicans

The Lakers start the final month of the season Wednesday, hosting the New Orleans Pelicans (39-34) at Staples Center. The game comes after a five-game road trip ending with an overtime win in Philadelphia over the 76ers.

The Pelicans are currently in ninth place in the Western Conference, with hopes they'll be able to catch the Oklahoma City Thunder (42-32) for the final playoff berth in the conference.

For the Lakers, Jeremy Lin is still listed as questionable with an upper respiratory infection.

They'll also play without Nick Young (knee), along with Ronnie Price (elbow), Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back), who are all done for the season.

Ryan Anderson (knee) is questionable for the Pelicans, while Jrue Holiday (leg) is out.

Key matchup

Forward Anthony Davis is one of the NBA's best players, but he's yet to make the postseason.

Now in his third season, Davis is averaging 24.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 1.5 steals a game, while shooting 54.1% from the field and 81.2% from the free-throw line.

Does he have any weaknesses?  His two assists a night isn't spectacular, but that's nit-picking. Davis is a serious force.

The Lakers will likely counter with Ryan Kelly, Carlos Boozer (expected back from an upper respiratory infection), Tarik Black, Robert Sacre and Ed Davis.

Coach Byron Scott has sat Davis in recent games, giving Kelly his first serious run at power forward (after playing most of the year out of position at the three).

X-factor

With Holiday hurt for much of the season, guard/forward Tyreke Evans has resurged after a down season, averaging 16.7 points, 6.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds a game.

Though he shoots 44.1% from the field, Evans isn't much of an outside threat at 30.1% from behind the arc.

The Lakers also have to keep track of former Clippers guard Eric Gordon, averaging 13.1 points a night.

Jordan Clarkson has flourished over the last five games, averaging 21.6 points and six assists.

Jabari Brown's second 10-day contract expired after Monday's win over the 76ers.  The Lakers may re-sign him before the Lakers play the Pelicans.

Outlook

Though the Lakers have been a competitive basketball team for much of the last month (albeit with not many wins to show for their efforts), the Pelicans are a desperate team fighting for that playoff spot.  They should be able to get past the Lakers on Wednesday.

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

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