Anthony Davis rises to try to block a shot by Lakers guard Lonzo Ball

Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: Anthony Davis, Julius Randle questionable vs. Lakers, LeBron James game-time decision

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

LOS ANGELES – It was billed all week by ESPN as a Western Conference matchup featuring two of the NBA’s biggest names, but it’s possible neither New Orleans forward Anthony Davis nor Lakers forward LeBron James will play Friday (9:30 p.m., ESPN, WRNO 99.5 FM). Davis did not attend Pelicans shootaround in Staples Center due to an illness, and is still listed as questionable to play vs. Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Lakers tweeted just after 11 a.m. Pacific that James did not attend his team’s shootaround and will be a game-time decision.

Asked whether Davis will be able to play, Alvin Gentry responded, “I hope so. We’ll know when he gets here and does his pregame routine.”

Meanwhile, Julius Randle is also listed as questionable, part of an extensive New Orleans injury report that includes Nikola Mirotic (doubtful, ankle, did not participate in shootaround) and Ian Clark (questionable, ankle). Elfrid Payton remains on the injured list due to a left finger fracture.

Gentry on Randle: “I think he’s OK. Obviously the ankle is still bothering him, but it would be my guess that he’s going to try to play.”

“I feel pretty good,” Randle said. “I’ve done some stuff to test my ankle, but it will be game-time (decision). I’ve done everything I possibly can to get back sooner.”

Other notes from Pelicans shootaround in Southern California, the most well-attended by media of the season:

Randle on returning to the site of the first four years of his NBA career: “It’s cool. I loved playing here. It’s fun. I definitely feel the energy in this building. You feel that juice being here.” …

With various storylines swirling around Friday’s game, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s an important late-December matchup for both teams, who’ve played poorly lately and are on matching two-game losing streaks, with 1-3 records in their last four games.

As much as the Pelicans (15-17) have struggled at various stages of the season, after a 4-0 start, they are only 3.5 games out of fourth place in the Western Conference, a spot currently occupied by the Lakers (18-13). New Orleans has finished with a better record than Los Angeles in each of the last five seasons. …

Asked about the challenge of shifting lineups and rotations due to Pelicans players being in and out of availability, Gentry gave a pretty optimistic answer about his team’s potential: “I think that’s the million-dollar question. We’ve juggled our lineup, and I think we’ve used 13 starting lineups. We’re just trying to find that combination of players. Obviously when we were healthy and had Elfrid, we were very good. Hopefully we’ll get him back and put guys back in the roles we thought they’d be in. Then we can develop some consistency from there.”

For the record, New Orleans has actually used 12 different starting lineups, but that number could easily reach 13 tonight, especially if Randle plays and Davis does not. …

Gentry on Randle’s impact, after being asked by Los Angeles media about the free-agent Pelicans pickup: “I like him. He’s added some physicality to our team that we desperately needed. He’s been good for us. Rebounding-wise, he’s been able to score for us and has done some good things."

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