Here is what you need to know before the Lakers take on the New Orleans Pelicans.
1) Lonzo made a statement
It took Karl-Anthony Towns 48 games to score 29 points. Myles Turner needed 30 to grab 11 rebounds. D’Angelo Russell didn’t reach nine assists as a rookie.
Lonzo Ball hit all three of those marks in the second game of his career.
The second-overall pick showed superstar potential in leading the Lakers to a 132-130 win over Phoenix on Friday, as the Suns’ league-worst defense left much for Ball to exploit.
Pick-and-rolls were easy pickings, and he repeatedly lost his man on screens and finished at the rim, whether there was a big man there or not. When Phoenix went under on high screens, he took advantage with four 3-pointers.
He took over when the game was on the line, providing three layups and an assist in a four-possession stretch with three minutes remaining.
However, New Orleans — eighth-best in defensive efficiency last year — should provide a much stiffer challenge than the Suns.
Lonzo’s attacks at the hoop will be challenged by an elite rim protector in Anthony Davis, and Jrue Holiday is one of the better defenders at the point guard spot.
However, Ball has shown composure in two games against Patrick Beverley and Eric Bledsoe, so the individual matchup shouldn’t matter as much as whether he can find opportunities for teammates within the flow of the offense.
2) Ingram elevated his game last time out
With all of the buzz that came with Ball reaching the brink of the youngest triple-double in NBA history, Brandon Ingram’s best game in purple and gold ended up being on the B side of Friday night.
Nonetheless, Ingram played a huge role i the Lakers’ victory, pouring in a career-high 24 points, including 17 in the first half alone.
The sophomore rarely wasted a shot, going 9-of-14 from the field. After a lackluster season debut the night before, Ingram returned to what made him so effective at the end of last year, using his long strides and wingspan to get into the paint and finish at the cup.
A new development was the 20-year-old’s 3-point shot, as he went 3-of-4 from deep against the Suns. A reliable perimeter jumper from Ingram — who hit just 29.4 percent of 3’s last season — would be a crucial boost for the Lakers’ spacing.
3) The Pelicans have one of the most atypical teams in the NBA
While the vast majority of the league has bought into small ball — often playing without a true center on the floor — New Orleans’ offense revolves around having two giants at the same time.
Of course, when those centers are All-Stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, it would be irresponsible to not try and use their size to the team’s advantage.
“The Brow” and “Boogie” have been a lethal offensive combination, putting up matching 35-point performances in their last game against Golden State. Both players are practically uncontainable in pick-and-rolls/pick-and-pops and their shooting ranges stretch out beyond the arc.
However, the remainder of the Pelicans’ roster is a question mark, as Davis and Cousins have combined for 62.1 percent of the team’s scoring through two games.
With respect to Cousins’ potentially All-NBA talent, Davis is the biggest threat to the Lakers.
Last year he averaged 35.3 points in three games against the purple and gold. And this season, according to Elias Sports Bureau, he has joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to start the season with back-to-back 30-point, 15-rebound games.
Pelicans: Rajon Rondo (left core muscle injury), Alexis Ajinca (right knee injury), Solomon Hill (left hamstring tear), Omer Asik (illness) and Frank Jackson (right foot fracture) are out.
Tip-Off: 6:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
Click here to view game notes for this contest.
A post shared by Los Angeles Lakers (@lakers) on Oct 20, 2017 at 8:42pm PDT