Pregame report: Pelicans at Lakers
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
News and updates from Staples Center prior to Tuesday’s Western Conference game between New Orleans and Los Angeles:
• From a big-picture standpoint, Pelicans Coach Monty Williams was asked what he’s been able to learn about his roster amid multiple major injuries: “I don’t think Anthony (Davis) would be where he is if we had Jrue (Holiday), Ryan (Anderson) and those guys on the floor. I just don’t think that would’ve happened. This has been a blessing in disguise, because he’s been able to stamp his claim as the franchise player. When those guys come back, I think they know they have to adapt to his game. So with all of the stuff that we’ve been through – no tragedies, just injuries that we couldn’t control – that’s one thing that, among other things, we can say we know that he’s the guy.”
• More from Williams on assessing the Pelicans long term and going into 2014-15: “I don’t think we have to start over (next season), but I do think we’re on our way. We still have a couple issues we need to address on our team – I’m certainly not going to go into those, for the sake of (not) embarrassing our players. But I think we’re certainly not at the beginning. We still have a ways to go, but the process has started.”
• Williams on avoiding constant or major changes frequently throughout a season: “I’ve learned in my time as a coach that you can’t try to do too many things, especially with a young team. You have to stay the course and teach the same things. When you win games, you don’t change. When you lose games, you stay along that path. There are little tweaks here and there, (including) lineup changes, but we’re still the same team with the same philosophy.”
• The No. 1 key for Williams against the Lakers is “transition defense. We’ve got to be able to get back and that’s starting with us taking good shots.”
• What’s at stake for the Pelicans (23-37): New Orleans is hoping to crack the win column on its five-game road trip, prior to finally going home Wednesday on a cross-country flight. The Pelicans also can win their season series 2-1 over the Lakers with a win tonight. New Orleans has consistently struggled against L.A. in recent years.
• What’s at stake for the Lakers (21-39): Los Angeles is attempting to put together its first three-game winning streak since November. The Lakers can also inch ahead of Sacramento and Utah and move out of the basement of the West with a victory. The teams are currently in a three-way tie for 13th in the conference.