Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Lakers - November 8, 2013
When the Lakers make their only visit of 2013-14 to the Crescent City on Friday evening, they’ll bear very little resemblance to the controversy-laden club that eked out a Western Conference playoff berth in 2012-2013. All-Star center Dwight Howard is gone, having signed with Houston this July as a free agent. Kobe Bryant is sidelined for an undetermined amount of time after tearing his Achilles tendon in April. It’s possible point guard Steve Nash could miss Friday’s game as well, because the Lakers have been resting the 39-year-old former two-time league MVP in the second game of back-to-backs (L.A. plays at Houston on Thursday).
In fact, two of the few recognizable faces on the Lakers’ roster to New Orleans fans are familiar here primarily because they once played for the Hornets. Lakers swingman Xavier Henry and center Chris Kaman, teammates on the 2011-12 New Orleans club, have moved into key roles for the current Lakers after signing this summer in free agency.
Henry and Kaman helped the Lakers go 2-3 in their first five regular season games, including an impressive Opening Night victory against their city rivals, the Clippers. Facing a potentially lengthy stretch without Bryant, the Lakers were projected by many NBA analysts to vie for one of the final West playoff spots again this season. New Orleans was also considered a candidate for a 7 or 8 seed by most prognosticators, along with the likes of Denver, Minnesota, Portland and Dallas.
New Orleans has had little success in recent head-to-head matchups against the Lakers, but Los Angeles has also never been without the Hall of Fame-bound Bryant for an extended period of time. The Lakers and Pelicans will get well-acquainted in the next few weeks, facing each other for a second time on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Tyreke Evans vs. Nick Young