The Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday without Anthony Davis. Now the New Orleans Pelicans will have him back, with Andrew Lopez of The Times-Picayune reporting that he will play around 20 minutes in total, and the Lakers have fallen further than ever. They are now two games below .500 after dropping a winnable matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies and still sit three games out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. They desperately need a win to stay in the race.
And they are making a major change in an effort to get one. The Lakers are not starting a center tonight, choosing instead to go small with LeBron James at center. They have altered their starting lineup accordingly, choosing to put their best five players on the floor regardless of position. It is a bold choice, especially with Davis on the floor, but the Lakers don’t have a center playing well right now. They didn’t have much of a choice in this matter. Here are the starting lineups for both sides in this critical matchup.
(Photo: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports, USA TODAY Sports)
Rajon Rondo is back in the starting lineup tonight. He has struggled off of the bench recently, so the Lakers put him back in the starting five in the hopes that it gets him going again.
(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)
The Lakers have been using Reggie Bullock in the spot typically occupied by Rajon Rondo as a way to space the floor more for the other starters ever since he arrived. Tonight, however, they are using both. (Photo: Matthew Stockman, Getty)
Brandon Ingram has taken his game up a notch recently. His scoring numbers have improved drastically and he is making much more of an effort to fit alongside James. This is the player that the Lakers expected him to be when they took him No. 2 overall. (Photo: Sarah Stier , Getty)
Kyle Kuzma has played good all-around basketball lately. His defense remains problematic, but his contributions as a rebounder and passer are becoming more consistent and his scoring remains quite valuable. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports)
LeBron James is starting at center tonight. The Lakers have elected not to put one of their big men on the floor to open the game given how poorly they have played. It is an extreme choice, but, frankly, a necessary one. (Photo: Stephen Lew, USA TODAY Sports)
Elfrid Payton was signed to replace Rondo in New Orleans, but it hasn’t worked out. Payton has dealt with injuries and just isn’t the same player that Rondo is. He remains a starter, but his future is as a backup. (Photo: Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports)
Jrue Holiday is one of the most dynamic two-way guards in basketball. He locked down Damian Lillard in the playoffs last season while also improving his scoring. He is a complete player and a true All-Star. (Photo: Chuck Cook, USA TODAY Sports)
Kenrich Williams has been a pleasant surprise for the Pelicans so far this season, giving them decent two-way play as a rookie. As they try to emphasize their younger players down the stretch, expect him to get plenty more minutes. (Photo: Layne Murdoch Jr., Getty)
Julius Randle has gotten lost in the shuffle of this budding Lakers-Pelicans rivalry. While most have focused on Anthony Davis, Randle was spurned by the Lakers in free agency last year and would no doubt love some revenge. (Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty)
The Pelicans aren’t on a back-to-back this time around, so there is no reason for Davis to sit this game out. He won’t play a full minutes load and there will no doubt be moments between he and James that will bother the Pelicans, but he will take the floor. “>247Sports