Photo courtesy of Andrew Berstein, Getty Images.

March 4, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (21-39) face off vs. the struggling New Orleans Pelicans (23-37) after coming away with a very impressive road victory vs. Portland TrailBlazers last night.

Wesley Johnson, who scored 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, received a sideline out-of-bounds alley-oop from G Kent Bazemore after backdoor cutting on PF LaMarcus Aldridge to lay the ball in from the right side of the rim. 

Johnson has seemed very comfortable playing the Power Forward position, averaging 14.8 PPG while shooting at or greater than 50% during his last 4 games. If Johnson continues to stay aggressive tonight, he should have another great game if he has either C Alexis Ajinca or F Anthony Davis guarding him.

Meanwhile, the Hornets have been struggling significantly, losing 8 straight games caused by costly injuries to many of their rotation players. All-Star C Anthony Davis has blossomed into a very high quality big man in the NBA. Davis has scored 20.1 PPG and grabbed 9.9 RPG, both surpassing his statistics from last season by a significant margin.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall Brian Roberts [Advantage: Even]
SG – Jodie Meeks / Eric Gordon [Advantage: Pelicans]
SF – Kent Bazemore / Tyreke Evans [Advantage: Pelicans]
PF – Wesley Johnson / Alexis Ajinca [Advantage: Lakers]
C – Pau Gasol Anthony Davis  [Advantage: Even]

Notable Bench Players

Hornets: G Austin Rivers, Anthony MorrowGreg Steisma

Lakers: PG Jordan FarmarRobert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, G Xavier Henry

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Hornets: Out-G Jrue Holiday, Out-F Ryan Anderson, Out-F Jason Smith

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-F/G Nick Young

Keys for Tonight’s Game

Rebound the Ball: Despite last night’s impressive win, the Lakers cannot afford to let their opponents grab 20 offensive rebounds like they did vs. Blazers. With the Pelicans going with a big front-line with Ajinca and Davis, all 5 Lakers have to crash the glass on the defensive end and help each other out to grab all of the 50/50 loose balls. The small lineup that the Lakers have featured throughout the last week seems to have made the offense flow better and provides more quickness. However, anytime the Lakers give away extra possessions to their opponents, they will have more difficulties coming away with a victory.

Bottom Line

Although both the Pelicans’ and Lakers’ management will never admit that they want to see them lose, they must secretly hope that they lose as many games as possible including tonight’s game. The Lakers management must want one of the top 4 players available in this highly-coveted draft class while the Pelicans will lose their 1st round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers unless they have a 5th pick or lower in this upcoming draft.

However, the Lakers have to make sure they play very hard tonight to continue on their momentum. a 3rd straight win tonight will be huge considering they have a very daunting schedule facing them following tonight’s game.

The Lakers should play with a lot of focus tonight and just maybe the fans in Staples Center will receive free tacos following tonight’s game.


Lakers: 106-99