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Game On: New Orleans Pelicans @ Los Angeles Lakers
The Pelicans head to Lakerland in hopes of climbing back to a .500 record. A win tonight could set off a solid win streak, as the Pelicans play the winless Utah Jazz twice and have the Philadelphia 76ers at home, but the first step is beating the Lakers, who just got obliterated by the Timberwolves at Staples Center.
So how do you beat the 2013-14 Lakers? Simple. You keep them from beating you from the perimeter. They rank near the bottom of the league in offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, and rebound rate.. simply put, this is a bad team without Kobe. But they have some shooters and they can burn you if you let them. And remember, the Pelicans haven’t exactly been facing world-beaters in their 3-4 start, so nothing can be taken for granted.
Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol had no answer for Anthony Davis in his monster performance less than a week ago. Kaman and Gasol are aging and simply cannot run with Davis up and down the floor. Last game, Davis ate Gasol’s lunch defending him in the post en route to a 6 block performance.
Here are my keys to tonight’s game.
1) Defend the perimeter- I’ve already said it, but it’s pivotal. The Lakers lack any guard who can consistently and effectively get to the rim enough to hurt an opponent. I’m not saying to abandon defending the rim to fly out at shooters, but there is no need to frantically collapse the defense when Steve Blake gets a line to the basket. The Lakers are near the bottom of the league in both getting shots at the rim and finishing there.
2) Limit mistakes/Stretch the Lakers- the Pelicans are not taking enough 3 pointers and teams are collapsing the paint on them, creating one of the league’s highest turnover rates. If New Orleans can create any sort of threat from 3 point land, the Lakers stand little to no chance defending them. Gasol/Kaman are slow and have no business defending the perimeter. Stretch their defense further than it wants to go and then feast upon opportunities at the rim.
3) Don’t let the microwave go off- yeah, Nick Young is bad. He takes bad shots and makes a low percentage of them. But when Nick Young is hot, he can beat you. Don’t give him that chance, and don’t give guys like Xavier Henry easy buckets to boost their confidence. Make the Lakers earn their points.