Los Angeles Lakers facing ‘must-win’ situation against New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday


LOS ANGELES — As aggressive because the LeBron James-less Lakers regarded in Wednesday’s 126-121 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the defeat solely raised the stakes for his or her subsequent sport on the schedule, on the street Sunday in opposition to the New Orleans Pelicans.

L.A. is at the moment No. 9 within the Western Convention standings with 9 video games left to play, and the Pelicans are sizzling on their tail, only a half-game behind at No. 10.

Sunday’s sport may fortify the Lakers’ lead, serving to their path towards internet hosting the Pelicans within the 9-10 play-in sport. Or, it may make the Lakers the workforce that is taking part in from behind, desperately attempting to cling onto the ultimate play-in spot simply to be rewarded with happening the street to play it.

“It will be a playoff-type of environment for us as a result of it is undoubtedly a must-win, I consider, for our group,” stated Russell Westbrook, who had 24 factors, 9 rebounds, eight assists and 7 turnovers in James’ absence in opposition to the Sixers.

James, who was held out Wednesday due to soreness in his left knee, may have a chance for six days of relaxation main into the New Orleans sport.

If he feels wholesome sufficient, he’ll be in there, and L.A. will attempt to sustain the modicum of momentum it has been capable of generate, going 2-2 over its previous 4 video games. The Lakers have discovered an offensive groove in these 4 video games, meting out 25 assists or extra in all of them.

“We’re making progress,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel stated. “We’re constructing habits which are going to win for us within the postseason. And, we’re persevering with to develop. I feel this sport, we’re upset we misplaced. However with out Bron, with out [Anthony Davis], the group that performed tonight confirmed everybody that we nonetheless have a complete lot of struggle left in us.”

The final time L.A. performed New Orleans, with James within the lineup, the Pelicans blew the Lakers out by 28. It was a part of L.A.’s put up All-Star break stoop, when it went 2-9 — with 4 of these losses coming by 20 factors or extra — and struggled to search out any form of footing.

However the minor upswing the Lakers are on — beating Toronto and Cleveland on the street and taking part in Washington and Philadelphia all the way down to the wire — has the workforce holding its head up.

“I am by no means going to surrender,” stated Dwight Howard, whose 24 factors on Wednesday marked essentially the most he has scored in a sport since Nov. 16, 2018. “I do not assume any of us feels just like the season is simply over with. We’ll do no matter we will to make it. It isn’t been the season that we have all needed. It took us an actual very long time to actually jell, however there’s nothing we will do now however simply keep constructive, hold combating.”

After all, a loss to New Orleans would put L.A. nearer to falling out of the play-in match fully. The Lakers are simply two video games up on No. 11 San Antonio after the Spurs beat the Portland Path Blazers 133-96 on Wednesday. The Spurs have two extra video games remaining on their schedule in opposition to the Blazers, too.

And so will probably be an prolonged play-in, in essence, to get to the true play-in match for this Lakers workforce.

“Hopefully our group’s collective playoff expertise will repay for us,” Vogel stated of the duty forward.

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