The Los Angeles Lakers might want to play all their games on the road. They improved to 7-0 away from Staples Center knocking off Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. Unfortunately the schedule won’t allow for that and they will battle the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night at Staples Center. The Lakers own the best record in the NBA at 10-3 but they are just 3-3 on their home floor. New Orleans has lost four straight and could be without several key players for this matchup. Bookmaker.eu offers a generous welcome bonus (max bonus $1600)
New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers
Date and Time: Friday, January 15, 2021, 10 p.m. ET
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Opening NBA Odds: Lakers -9 (Live Lines Here) *Note: Bookmaker still had this one off the board as of 9:45 am ET
Pelicans at Lakers TV Coverage: ESPN
Not that long ago the Pelicans were sitting at 4-2 and looking like a legitimate playoff contender. And there’s the problem with evaluating teams based on a small sample size. Playing their first road game in 2021, the Pels were upended 111-106 by the Clippers on Wednesday night. A game at Dallas scheduled for earlier in the week was postponed when the Mavs had a COVID party. The unexpected rest wasn’t enough to get the Pels back in the win column. They dropped a fourth straight game, though they covered the line to end a three-game ATS skid. Overall the Pels are 4-6 SU and ATS. The Lakers finished off a three-game road trip with a 128-99 win at OKC extending their overall winning streak to four. Surprisingly they have been just average at home dropping two of their last three at Staples while going 3-3 SU and 2-4 ATS.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are a team on the rise with a stable of young talent, but they aren’t there yet. And they can’t afford to play without a full roster. They were dealt a blow ahead of their last game when Zion Williamson was ruled out after an inconclusive COVID test. They were also without Eric Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball due to injuries. The Pels will be catching points on the line, but that number could go up depending on the roster situation. Keep close tabs on the injury reports to see where those players end up.
Those three account for over 46 points and 15.6 rebounds per game meaning a lot of production is lost. However, it does allow for others to step up and assume a bigger role. On Wednesday it was Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who scored 37 points with eight rebounds in his first start of the season. Former Laker Brandon Ingram has been the guy all season. He leads the team in scoring (23.8) and assists (5.5) while hauling down 7.0 rebounds per game.
Without the next three leading scorers in the lineup, the Clips concentrated their efforts defensively on Ingram holding him to 22 points. And the rest of the club couldn’t keep up. For a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth taking three players who average at least 30 minutes is a big deal. The hope is that Williamson is cleared to play. His presence alone would do wonders. He averages 21.9 points shooting nearly 56 percent from the floor along with 8.1 boards.
Los Angeles Lakers
For whatever reason the Lakers are just dialed in when they hit the road. They’ve had championship teams in the past and none of them won their first seven away games, which tells you a little about the makeup of this club. Anthony Davis put things in perspective after LA’s 128-99 win over the Thunder. “Is it really a road game? You don’t know. There’s no fans. But we go out and try to compete each and every night. We’re still trying to figure things out, and when we get a win out of it, it just makes it a bonus,” he said.
We saw the best of the Lakers on their just concluded road-trip. They played stellar defense, which came in response to an outburst from AD following a 118-109 loss to San Antonio last week. The Lakers are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS since then allowing an average of just over 100 points in the last three. It was the defense that played a big role in the Lakers winning an NBA record tying 17th title last season.
You still have to score and the Lakers have done that at a good pace. They scored at least 117 points in each of the last four games and average 115.7 points for the season. They have the second-best field goal percentage and shoot nearly 40 percent from behind the three-point line, good for third in the NBA.
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Even with a complete roster it would be tough for the Pels to win this game. Look for Ingram, Ball and Josh Hart to have a little edge in their game. They are the players dealt to New Orleans for Davis. It still won’t matter. The Lakers have superior depth and they have LeBron and AD, which makes them a winner in this one.
NBA Score Prediction: Lakers 109, Pelicans 98
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– Phil Simon, Gambling911.com