Preview Chat: Lakers vs. Pelicans

Daniel Rapaport —  November 12, 2013

The Lakers (3-5) will look to bounce back from an ugly loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight when they take on the new-look New Orleans Pelicans (3-4) at Staples Center.

The Lakers will be playing without Steve Nash for the first of what could be many games; Nash saw back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins on Monday and will miss a minimum of two weeks with nerve root irritation in his back that causes pain in his hamstring. At 39 years old, it’s hard to imagine Nash back on the court that soon– keep in mind that Nash was unable to come into training camp healthy despite a full offseason of rest and rehabilitation. Jodie Meeks will take Nash’s place in the starting lineup, with Steve Blake sliding over one guard spot to handle the point guard duties.

Jordan Hill will make his first start of the year, and it’s about time, quite honestly. Hill has been a bright spot for the Lakers, providing constant energy off the bench. His PER of 21.8 is team best for players who have seen significant minutes (Meeks is second at 16.5), and he’s been a key contributor during crunch time minutes. Keep an eye on Hill’s energy levels- if he can keep up the high intensity playing a starter’s load of minutes, he may find himself starting at a much higher frequency.

In the last game against the Pelicans, a 96-85 loss that was closer than the final score indicated, Anthony Davis put his full repertoire on display, torching the purple and gold for 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 big blocks. Pau had trouble scoring on the second-year player, who’s put on a good deal of muscle and seems to have evolved into one of the very best big man in the league. Tonight, Gasol will need to shoulder an increased burden on the offensive end to keep the shorthanded Lakers in the game. He’ll need to play significantly better than he has been recently for LAL to have a chance- in the last three contests, Pau is shooting a combined 9 for 34 (26%) and averaging 7.3ppg. It’s worth noting that Pau has been struggling with a respiratory illness but says that he is finally feeling better, so it’ll be interesting to see if he has the spring back in his legs that has been lacking recently.

Blake has a tough defensive assignment tonight in young all-star Jrue Holiday, who had 13 assists in the earlier game against the Pelicans. But the key tonight will be stopping-no, containing- Davis. Against Minnesota, Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman, and Shawne Williams all failed to contain another elite power forward in Kevin Love. If Davis is able to have his way on the low block tonight against whoever may be guarding him, it could be a long night for the Lakers, who are looking to avoid a three game skid after the epic win in Houston.

If the Lakers want to right the ship and stick around in the playoff race, these are the games they’ll need to find a way to win despite Kobe’s, and now Nash’s, absence. The Pelicans are more talented than this current Lakers team is, for sure- Anthony Davis will be an all-star this year, Jrue Holiday was one last-year, and Tyreke Evans was once touted as the next big thing after a sparkling rookie campaign that earned him Rookie of the Year honors- but they’re young, and have been less than stellar on the road. Nick Young is currently the only player whose proven that he can create his own shot for this Lakers team, so they’ll need to rely on the three-ball heavily until Kobe’s return. Whenever that may be, the return of #24 will make this squad a better team without question- but it’s crucial that they don’t dig themselves too deep a whole before he does make it back on the court.

A 3-6 start would not be what the doctor ordered.

Daniel Rapaport

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62 responses to Preview Chat: Lakers vs. Pelicans

  1. Nash is a wrap. Wins don’t depend on whether Nash plays or doesn’t play. What counts is whether D’A plays his best line up to date Farmar, Meeks, Hill, Kaman and Henry.

  2. Not to pile on any negativity, but we have the worst point differential in the entire league, this side of the winless Jazz.

  3. I expect that the team will play pretty well tonight. Sad as it is to say, losing Nash will help, and I think teams sometimes bounce back after hitting deep lows, for a variety of reasons.

    Of course, as Aaron and others have suggested, it is arguable whether winning games right now is in the org’s long-term interest.

  4. Interesting report Daniel. You mentioned twice about being short handed. Kobe has been out all year and the loss of Nash who was shooting 27% and struggling on D due to health can only be a plus.

    With Hill starting and Blake/Farmar playing point they have a vastly better chance then last time.

    Lakers by 4.

  5. As a conspiracy theorist, I’d have to say the Nash situation has worked out perfectly for the Phoenix Suns. By allowing Steve to go to the Lakers, they:

    A) Allowed Goran Dragic to become their point guard without the accompanying angst associated with the demotion of fan favorite Nash. The last I looked, Dragic is playing very, very well.

    B) Saddled the division rival and long time nemesis Lakers with a debilitating contract for a player who has given The Show virtually nothing, except good intentions.

    C) Acquired Lakers’ draft picks in the Nash deal that, at the very least slow down the Lakers’ rebuilding process.

    It’s far fetched to believe that Phx. management could’ve been that devious but things have certainly worked out well for them. However, I never believed that their motives were completely altruistic in trading Nash to the team of his choice so that he could “be near his kids”. They certainly knew they were clearing the way for a younger Dragic. And now, Nash’s misfortunes have hamstrung the Lakers for his entire tenure with them.

    I’ve never been a big Steve Nash fan. I remember the Raja Bell days and some of the comments Nash made regarding Kobe and the Lakers during that time. I was hoping for good results from his being traded to the Lakers. Now, I’m just hoping the Lakers can move on from the debacle his signing and subsequent injuries have created and helped to fester.

  6. rr

    Long term interest would have meant not trading a 38year old with a bad back for cash and 2 draft choices.

  7. Pelicans: It is a “must” win. The negativity will begin to increase exponentially if we lose another home game.
    Nash: Hindsight is always 20/20. so with the benefit of hindsight, it appears as though the Suns did to us, what we “almost” did to the Hornets. Mitch had the insight to trade Lamar and Pau, just before major downturns in both cases, and we would have wound up with Chris Paul in the process. However – the VETO happened. So fast forward. The Suns traded us Steve NASH right before a major breakdown. Same sort of genius only unfortunately – this one did not get the VETO.
    FO: And if you think I am getting soft on the FO and blaming all of this on bad luck and VETOs – I am not. As rr has pointed out – our entire starting 5 from last year is basically gone. So let’s review: DH: We could not entice him to stay in spite of the fact that we are the “go to” destination in the NBA. Nash: We got done to us, that which we tried to do to the Hornets. Metta: We wanted to save cash. Kobe: Please refer to Aaron’s previous posts Pau: I will blame this one on Stern. OK – so 1 is Stern’s fault, and the other 4?
    I think we will win tonight (although that may not be good given my last 2 game predictions).

  8. Keno,

    If you were opposed to the Nash deal at the time, power to you. Some guys here were against it at the time, I know. But I am not going to bag on the FO for it. The reasoning behind it was sound, and there was reason to believe that Nash, like Stockton, could play effectively until he was 40. Most observers believed that last year’s team would contend for the title. Nash was supposed to be the bridge between Howard and Kobe, the replacement for Paul, and the bridge to Howard’s re-upping.

    And, if people want low 1st-round and/or 2nd-rounders, the Lakers have two chips–Kaman and Hill, and maybe a third chip in Meeks–that might be able to snag such picks this year at the deadline.

    One last point about the Nash deal that has not gotten much play: the 2015 pick is Top 5-protected. It would be better if it were lottery-protected, of course, but having it Top 5-protected matters.

  9. Tonight’s starting line up (as I understand it) should look interesting:

    Steve Blake
    Jodie Meeks
    Nick Young
    Jordan Hill
    Pau Gasol

    Eventually, of course, MDA is going to have to settle on a rotation. But I can understand his tinkering even at this point. And the combination of Hill and Gasol up front bears watching. Let’s see if this works.

  10. pau has to step up. I’ve been hard on pau and I hope his play was a result of the respiratory infection. Pau has to use his body and skill in order for him to be effective against Davis length and athleticism.

    But hopefully hill can keep up with Davis in transition. It’ll be a interesting game for sure.

  11. Mid-Wilshire: The word “interesting” was used a number of times in the pre-season. I always wondered what exactly it meant. Thank you for clearly defining it : )

  12. Mid-Wilshire, the starting lineup is just 1 away from being ideal, Jordan Farmar.

  13. I agree, Start Farmar and have Blake come in at the 2 if the matchup permits. I know thats a big if but its better than him starting. Lets hope Young develops a little basketball IQ on how to play defense or basketball in general.

  14. At this rate everyone in organization will start a game. Now Johnson starting. Expecting Stu Lantz to start tomorrow..

  15. Interesting = Catastrophic

  16. Who signed Shannon Brown?

    Norm Nixon will be at my office at 3pm tomorrow. I will ask him if he can go 20 a game.

  17. Hmm hill starting finally, lets see if he can deliver, about Nash for what he is contributing to the team, he wont be missed, sad but true, people talk about the Suns “screwing” us but people forget that Nash in that prior season almost willed the Suns into the playoffs by himself playing at almost MVP level. The Lakers made the call like a formality when he became a FA, to their surprise Nash was receptive and the rest is history. Any other team would had jumped at the chance, the Knicks really really wanted him and obviously the Raptors, Nash demise started on the Portland game.

  18. I just hope we dont get curb stomped again.

  19. R–”interesting” reminds me of a well-worn Chinese curse that translates roughly–”May you live in interesting times…”

  20. What is he doing with these quick changes.

  21. Keno–Many on this board lately have complained that MDA has left guys in too long—until they are dragging—instead of trying to keep them fresh. Either MDA has been (1) trolling this board for advice or; (2) figured out the issue himself or with the aid of his staff.

  22. Were they not playing hard last game? wtf is going on..

  23. Caveman Kaman channeling his inner Magic Johnson with the bullet pass.

  24. Henry is the André Either of basketball.

  25. I know that it takes awhile to develop “love” from refs in the NBA, but I cannot recall a young player being more-thoroughly disrespected by the officials than Xavier Henry. He is not a flailer. He drives the lane and draws legit contact, but no foul call. Then Tyreke Evans flops like Griffin on a Henry drive and gets the bogus offensive foul call. If Henry was a flopper or constantly out of control, I would get it. But he is neither.

    Sufian–yes they were, but the Pelicans were playing much better the other night. Davis hasn’t been nearly the force he was the other night (he has three fouls already). Give Pau some credit for taking it right at him early in the game.

  26. With Keno is damned if u do damned if you dont lol. Good team play but o know this bunch will let the licans back in the game.

  27. Xavier Henry is not a superstar. If its Harden, its a foul on every drive.

  28. It means he is all lefty. Still like him.

  29. Hill rolling down hill is impresive!

  30. So Jordan Hill misses a dunk he shouldn’t have, but clearly got pushed by Evans on one end, but on the other end, on the very next play, the youngster from Kansas, Withey, who is a freaking rookie gets a phantom call on a layup he shouldn’t have blown either. Goofy officiating in this one.

    Lakers are playing well because they are playing hard on defense. I think this is the first time LA has built a healthy lead without the aid of a barrage of threes. Hope they can sustain the effort.

    Davis won’t sit out for so much of the second half, so the bigs better be ready.

  31. I like the point guard Blake better than the shooting guard Blake

  32. Its amazing. Play Hill more minutes and the defense looks better. Such a simple concept and it MDA a couple of games to figure it out.

  33. I like the starter Hill better then the in the dog house Hill.

  34. Team looking good tonight…Addition by subtraction?

  35. SB and Farmar doing a good job running the offense thus far.

  36. Loving Hill! Watching Mike?

  37. It’s like the Mamba has infused Jodie Meeks with his spirit. He’s made more open court plays in this short season than he did all of last year.

  38. Jordan Hill might find more time with the starting unit, he is having a nice game tonight.

  39. Is it possible a injury changes the entire season?

  40. Kevin T, heck I like the PG Blake better than the other PG Steve. Looks like he’s picked up quite a few tricks from Nash – even earlier in the season he showed us multiple times how to keep the dribble alive as you dance along the baseline and probe the defense.

  41. Guess they heard about the whole point differential thing I was talking about…

  42. Maybe Nash somehow switched bodies with Blake

  43. WOW, Xavier Henry Slam Dunk.

  44. That was a insane dunk by Xavier

  45. It’s an X-Hen Poster

  46. Xavier has a number of things to work on in his game. But you can’t teach athleticism, and he has an extra gear. I think out of all of the “lottery busts” I’m pulling for him the hardest.

  47. Wrong lineup out there

  48. Get Blake and Pau back in. Current group playing out of control.

  49. Keno—MDA waited a little too long to bring Hill back. MDA should consider shortening the rotation by one guy, and Williams is the one.

  50. Exactly right mindcrime.. Williams is the guy that needs to sit.

  51. Agreed Mind. Williams needs to sit. More Hill, More Blake, More Johnson.

  52. This team is like me at the Spa Casino in Palm Springs Saturday. Killing it one hour and getting killed the next !

  53. Really encouraging signs all across the board, good to get some payback against the Pelicans, lets hope this is a sustainable thing and not another smoke and mirrors scenario product of a hot shooting single night.

  54. Best number of the night now that garbage time is here–27–as in the most minutes that any Laker played tonight with second night of a back to back in DEN tomorrow night.

  55. Key to this game was starting Hill and not getting run off the court with Nash on defense.

    Hope Mike stays with starters.

  56. I agree Keno we need to ride this lineup and see if its sustainable.

  57. Nice to see the Lakers on the right side of a blowout win. Henry’s dunk the highlight of the night. Hope to see Hill start more games. Blake did a good job running the offense.

  58. Starting Hill did wonders. More importantly, a win.

  59. Blake at PG was well better than Farmar today. Jordan looked like he was pressing too hard.

    Nice all around game from the team. Hopefully a better back-to-back result against the Nugs than our last 2 back ends.

  60. While everyone is talking Hill and Henry, the fact is that MDA started 3 new players tonight – Hill, Johnson, Meeks – and all three contributed to a more cohesive 1st unit. The second unit also didn’t suffer with Kaman & Young added.

    So what do I hear now on the thread? “What took him so long?” Give it a rest and accept that frequent, instantaneous changes of direction don’t help any club. We may be seeing the development of a consistent 1st and 2nd unit, but the players have played themselves into this and it is the result of all our preseason games and our previous 8 season games, as well as injury. The injury to Steve Nash has allowed MDA to make a change and still keep all the player’s egos in line – not a thing to be taken lightly.

  61. I fully expect a loss tonight, but if we see some consistent effort and effectiveness from both the 1st and 2nd units, then I will be happy. We have had a very difficult schedule opening this season, especially for a radically different club, with almost everyone on a one-year deal. I am not sure 2 games under .500 isn’t an accomplishment.

    Of course I want more and better in the future, but we are breaking in this car. Now we have to see how fast it will go and how well the brakes work.

  62. “What took him so long?”

    __________

    Hill had the 3rd highest PER on the team and was second in WS/48 last year. This year, he has by far the highest numbers on the team in both of those metrics. If you don’t like numbers and instead prefer the eye test, Hill scores well, there, too. If you like team numbers, as Darius noted, Hill’s EFF numbers with Pau last year were quite good, albeit in a small sample.

    But…the Lakers brought in Shawne Williams, who was not in the NBA last year, and MDA started him opening night–as I and many others predicted that he would. MDA has also tried Wes Johnson at the 4. MDA has in addition played Kaman alongside Pau. But, the Minnesota game was such an embarrassment that it, combined with Nash’s injury, forced MDA’s hand.

    I personally think Hill will drop off a lot with more PT, but we will see. But several people on this board were calling for Hill to start in preseason, and it is obvious that he should have been playing serious minutes all along.