Here is what you need to know before the Lakers finish the season’s home slate against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Last game saw the Lakers win on one of the most emotional plays imaginable. After learning of his grandmother’s death that morning, D’Angelo Russell fired the game-winning 3-pointer at the final buzzer, which initially appeared to rim out before falling through for victory. Russell — who dedicated the shot to his grandma — flew home to Louisville the next day and will not play against New Orleans.
Russell’s now-signature moment has the Lakers on their longest win streak in four years, having taken four straight over Memphis, San Antonio, Sacramento and Minnesota. Another triumph will give L.A. its most consecutive victories in one season since March 2012, when the roster still included the likes of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Matt Barnes.
A key cog in the Lakers’ current surge has been Tyler Ennis, who is a candidate to start this game in Russell’s stead. The 22-year-old has thrived lately, scoring double figures in six of his last eight games after failing to do so in all of his previous 44. Ennis’ success crescendoed in L.A.’s last win, when he scored a career-high 20 points while hitting four 3-pointers.
With this being the home finale, it could also potentially be the last game at Staples Center for longtime fan favorite Metta World Peace. The 37-year-old has stated his desire to continue playing, either in the NBA or overseas, while head coach Luke Walton has been upfront about his desire to play him in gratitude for his commitment to the team. World Peace had the arena rocking in Sunday’s win, as he scored eight points in the fourth quarter to spur the Lakers’ comeback.
The Lakers are facing a Pelicans team missing both of its superstars. It’ll be a relief for the L.A. frontcourt to not have to deal with Anthony Davis, who is the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer (28.0) and also ranks second in blocks (2.23) and seventh in rebounds (11.8). Davis dominated his previous meetings with the purple and gold, averaging the second-most points (35.3) of any Lakers’ opponent.
Davis’ fellow All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins, will also sit out due to injury. The former Pacific Division foe had been pounding the opposition lately, collecting five double-doubles in his last six games while averaging 32.0 points and 14.0 rebounds.
Without two of the NBA’s top 10 rebounders, the Pelicans will need to find a way to make up the difference on the glass, as they already have the league’s second-worst rebounding differential (-4.5). Plus, the Lakers have been excellent on the boards during their win streak, holding their opponents to the fewest caroms (37.8).
While the Lakers have won four in a row, the Pelicans have dropped all of their last four. They have been getting walloped on the glass during this stretch — grabbing 15.0 fewer rebounds than the opposition — while also surrendering a league-high 124.0 points per game.
Los Angeles native Jrue Holiday will be the Pelicans’ primary offensive option. The former All-Star ranks eighth in the NBA in assists (7.3) and is shooting a career-best 45.2 percent from the field.
New Orleans recently called up two of the D-League’s most potent weapons. Jordan Crawford — the 2016 Chinese league scoring champion — has put up 20 points in back-to-back games while scoring double figures in 15 of his first 17 appearances. And rookie Quinn Cook, who led the D-League in scoring this year, poured in 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting in Saturday’s loss to Golden State.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (right patellar tendinitis) is probable. D’Angelo Russell (personal reasons) and Ivica Zubac (high right ankle sprain) are out.
Pelicans: E’Twaun Moore (left ankle sprain) is probable. Anthony Davis (left knee soreness), DeMarcus Cousins (right Achilles tendonitis), Omer Asik (illness) and Quincy Pondexter (left knee) are out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Click here to view game notes for this contest.