Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans: Game Grades and Analysis for Lakers
After pulling out a narrow 99-98 victory against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers (3-4) simply didn't bring that same drive and energy to the New Orleans Arena against the Pelicans (3-3), losing their third game of the season by a final score of 96-85.
Anthony Davis was dominant on both ends of the court, scoring a career-high 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked six shots.
A 12-0 run by the Pelicans broke a close game wide open in the final three minutes of regulation.
The Lakers couldn't connect from the charity stripe, leaving nine points at the free-throw line by hitting just 17-of-26.
Chris Kaman would lead the Lakers with 16 points, while Nick Young and Steve Blake each had 13 of their own. The team shot just 38.8 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from behind the arc.
After playing 27 minutes against the Rockets, the Lakers decided to err on the side of caution and rest Steve Nash.
Point Guard: Steve Blake
Realizing that his shot wasn't falling, Blake made it more of a priority to be a facilitator with the basketball, involving his teammates and getting them open looks.
There were no game-winners to be had, so the "Blake Mamba" didn't have to make an appearance for the second night in a row.
He hit a clutch three-pointer to bring the Lakers to within two points at 76-74 with 6:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, but a couple of slam dunks by Anthony Davis immediately erased any good Blake had just accomplished.
Speaking of erasing good play, Blake's five turnovers could very well overshadow his eight assists. Blake had much success finding the frontcourt of Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman in the lane with his bounce passes, but his ball movement in the second half was rather sloppy, making ill-advised decisions and coughing up the ball to New Orleans.
Final Grade: C+
Shooting Guard: Jodie Meeks
Jodie Meeks was lights out against the Houston Rockets on Thursday, draining five three-pointers on route to 18 points and three rebounds.
Unfortunately, the 26-year-old guard couldn't carry over any of that hot shooting against New Orleans.
In a very mediocre first half, Meeks hit just 2-of-7 from the field for six points. His shots came off very flat, bouncing off the back of the rim numerous times.
He would finish the night with 11 points and two three-pointers.
With the referees calling plenty of fouls, resulting in a slower pace of the game, it would be hard for any pure shooter to get into a half-decent rhythm.
It just wasn't Meeks' night.
Final Grade: C
Small Forward: Nick Young
Nick Young is the definition of a rhythm shooter. He's the type of player who needs his looks to fall and fall often so he can build confidence and ultimately make the opposition pay.
He hit his first three shots of the third quarter, so all was looking well coming out of the half.
Young eventually fouled out of the game with 13 points, three rebounds and three turnovers.
Whenever it looked like Young was about to get going offensively, he would either get taken out of the game or simply be ignored around the perimeter.
His 5-of-11 shooting isn't going to rock your world, but compared to some of his teammates, that's not half bad.
Final Grade: C+
Power Forward: Pau Gasol
After shooting just 1-of-10 from the field Thursday night against the Houston Rockets, anything was going to be considered improvement for Pau Gasol in New Orleans.
His numbers weren't as disastrous as they were in Houston, but they weren't exactly reassuring either.
Gasol never seemed like he was into the game. That's to be expected during the second night of a back-to-back, but with Kobe Bryant on the sidelines, the Lakers really need the big Spaniard to elevate his game and his intensity on the court.
It's not there at the moment.
The swarming defense of Anthony Davis didn't help matters either. It looked as if everything Gasol was attempting under the basket, Davis was always going to be there to block his shot.
Rebounds weren't a problem for Gasol, having grabbed 11 boards on the night.
In the end, it wouldn't shock me if Gasol were to have nightmares of Davis tonight in his sleep.
Talk about rough.
Final Grade: D+
Center: Chris Kaman
Chris Kaman was aggressive on offense right out of the gates, scoring eight points on seven attempts in the opening quarter. He was the recipient of crisp passing from Blake and Gasol, while also showing off his mid-range game by hitting from his sweet spot.
He had his difficulties defending Anthony Davis, especially off the dribble, but no one is ever going to confuse Kaman for the most agile of athletes. That was never going to be a fair fight.
Jason Smith was also able to hit a few uncontested jumpers, with Kaman failing to close out on his man.
Head coach Mike D'Antoni decided to go with Jordan Hill in the final moments of the game, leaving Kaman on the bench, which is surprising considering how effective the 11-year veteran had been up until that point.
Final Grade: B
Sixth Man: Jordan Farmar
Jordan Farmar was yet another Laker who couldn't string together another strong outing after the win against Houston on Thursday.
He finished with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, including four rebounds and two assists. He also turned the ball over three times.
The size of Jrue Holiday was difficult to work against, as Farmar had trouble playing man-to-man on the defensive end.
He played well in the first half, but tried to take on to much of a "I'll get us out of this jam" role in the final 24 minutes, hoisting up shots that just weren't connecting.
"A" for effort, but "F" for execution.
Final Grade: C
The Los Angeles Lakers went with a four-man bench rotation of Jordan Farmar, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry.
Having spent the past two seasons as a member of the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans, Henry was out to show up his old team by putting forth a strong performance. He looked to attack the basket early and create opportunities for himself at the rim. He did force some of his shots in the second half, ending the night with six points and two rebounds.
Hill was a force on the boards in the first half, grabbing six rebounds, including two on the offensive glass. Unfortunately, the 62.5 percent free-throw shooter couldn't connect at all from the charity stripe, missing all four of his attempts and six in total. He finished with 13 total rebounds.
I guess you can say he was doing his best Dwight Howard impression.
After scoring 16 points on 15 attempts against Houston, Wesley Johnson contributed just three points against the Pelicans. He did, however, grab five rebounds and dish out three assists.
Final Grade: B-
Follow Christopher Walder on Twitter @WalderSports.