The Los Angeles Lakers (23-32) were unable to extend their winning streak to a season-long five games for the third time this year as they fell to the Dallas Mavericks on the road, 130-123. Since January 7, the Lakers have fallen to a familiar pattern of winning four games in a row and then losing two games in a row. They’ve gone an impressive 12-5 during that span, and are one defeat away from repeating that pattern for the third time.
As they have been for the past few weeks, the forward duo of Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram were stellar for the Lakers. Randle led the team with 26 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists, while Ingram added 22. Meanwhile, Isaiah Thomas had a strong Lakers debut as he dropped 22 points with six assists off the bench.
The Lakers will next face the New Orleans Pelicans (30-26), who won their second game in a row following a 118-103 beatdown of the Detroit Pistons. After his historic 44-point, 17-rebound, six-steal masterclass against the Nets, Pelicans star big man Anthony Davis had another monster performance with 38 points and ten boards against the Pistons.
And for the second-straight game, Davis had a lot of help from his supporting cast. Jrue Holiday had 21 points and 12 assists and Nikola Mirotic had his own impressive double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Coach Alvin Gentry altered his rotation by having Mirotic come off the bench with Emeka Okafor starting at center. It remains to be seen whether this will be the team’s go-to lineup moving forward.
Three keys to the game
Anthony Davis – Davis has been nothing short of phenomenal in February. He’s scored 38 or more points four times in his first six games of the month. He’s also adding 10.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks as he continues to carry the added burden for the team without DeMarcus Cousins. It’s no secret how shaky the Lakers’ frontcourt defense remains despite their current winning run, and it’s not hard to imagine Davis being able to continue is dominance against them.
Lakers frontcourt – However, the Pelicans have their own pressing issues defensively along the frontcourt, and the Lakers have the talent to take advantage of those deficiencies. As noted earlier, Randle and Ingram have been playing very well of late, as has center Brook Lopez. The veteran could play a significant role in the matchup given his ability to stretch the floor.
Sixth man showdown - Neither team boasts the deepest bench, but both do have excellent sixth men in Mirotic and Thomas who are both capable of getting hot from beyond the arc and going off for huge scoring games. While Mirotic has been excellent ever since arriving in New Orleans, the Lakers will need Thomas to continue the production he showed in his debut to keep pace with the Pelicans on the road.
Matchup to watch
Julius Randle vs Anthony Davis – Davis is one of the most difficult players to cover in the entire league, and even more so when he’s playing at the level he’s been playing recently. Randle will be at a distinct size advantage against the Brow, which will obviously make things very difficult for him. However, that shouldn’t prevent him from staying aggressive offensively. Randle has been huge to the Lakers’ success and they’ll need him to rise up to the challenge of taking Davis on.
Lakers projected starting lineup
PG – Josh Hart | SG – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | SF – Brandon Ingram | PF – Julius Randle | C – Brook Lopez
Pelicans projected starting lineup
PG – Rajon Rondo | SG – Jrue Holiday | SF – E’Twaun Moore | PF – Anthony Davis | C – Emeka Okafor
There will almost definitely be a lot of fantasy points up for grabs in this game. The Lakers and the Pelicans are two of the top three teams in terms of pace, and two of the bottom six in points allowed. This game seems tailor-made for Davis to dominate once again, but just about everyone who is a regular rotation player will have a chance to fill up the stat sheet.
The Lakers frontcourt of Ingram, Randle, and Lopez could have a field day against the Pelicans’ porous defense. The same goes on the other side with Mirotic, who has averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds over his last two games. Even less heralded players like Rajon Rondo, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, and E’Twaun Moore, and Isaiah Thomas might end up having terrific fantasy nights. Take your pick.
This is a tough one to call. The Lakers have been really impressive of late, but they have still been wobbly on the road, with notable losses to the Grizzlies, Magic, and Mavs. They seem capable of at least keeping it within the five-point spread, although it's tough to trust them completely outside of Staples. The much safer bet could just be the total, which is set at 226.5. That just seems like it'll go way over given the subpar caliber of defense the two teams play.
Davis goes off once again to lead the Pelicans to a 123-116 win over the Lakers.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports New Orleans and Spectrum SportsNet. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm Eastern.