Nov 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon (10) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) and shooting guard Wesley Johnson (11) during the second quarter of a game at New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Game Nine Preview: Lakers (3-5) vs. Pelicans (3-4)

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Could you find two teams on the complete opposite end of the spectrum than the Lakers and Pelicans, both short term and long-term? The Lakers are team with little talent, no expectations for this year, and no upside right now. They’re in a limbo right now, essentially bridging the gap between a team that won back-to-back titles just a few seasons ago and a franchise focused on next summer’s spending spree. In the middle, this team is almost nothing but players in their last year with the Lakers, save for a few likely holdovers.

 

New Orleans is full of young, talented players and are a team on the up and up. They have their star for the future in Anthony Davis, who showcased what he could do while embarrassing Pau Gasol last Friday night. They’ve surrounded him with young players, both role players and budding co-stars. They have a clear future and one that has their fanbase rightfully excited.

 

Tonight, these two teams will battle for the second of three times, the last match-up coming late in the season. At that point, much will be decided about each team’s future for the short term. For tonight, the Lakers will continue to compete, despite being without Steve Nash and having a less-than-100% Gasol. If you’re looking to see the Lake Show live, grab your Lakers tickets now.

 

X-FACTOR OF THE NIGHT

 

Jordan Hill. This is assuming, of course, that Hill sees the court for extended minutes. Considering the wackiness of Mike D’Antoni’s rotations so far, there’s still no excuse for someone like Hill not seeing significant minutes of action. We saw how outmatched Gasol was against the younger, far more athletic Davis. Hill is the only Lakers front court player who comes close to Davis’ athleticism and if D’Antoni were smart, he’d lean on him to try to negate Davis’ impact as much as possible.

 

NUMBER OF THE NIGHT

 

47. As in the amount of points the Lakers gave up to the T’Wolves in the first quarter on Sunday evening. The Wolves started hot and took the Lakers out of the game before they knew what happened. They can’t afford a similar result tonight or life could get very rough for the Lakers.

 

PREDICTION

 

The problem is, this Pelicans team creates so many matchup problems for the Lakers, both inside and out, for them to handle. Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, and Eric Gordon are more than our guards can handle and Anthony Davis is more than any big man can handle. I predicted the Lakers would win against Minnesota and was thoroughly wrong. I’ve learned my lesson. Pelicans eek out a victory, 103-97.

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