NEW ORLEANS — The Lakers morphed from one season to another with an Hall-of-Fame caliber lineup riddled with injuries and competing agendas to an a lineup riddled with an assembly of castoffs eager to contribute.
The Lakers (3-3) will use their fifth different starting lineup of the season when they play the New Orleans Pelicans (2-3) tonight at New Orleans Arena. Point guard Steve Nash will sit out as part of the Lakers’ season-long campaign to miss the second night of back-to-back games, while Steve Blake takes his spot and Jodie Meeks starts at shooting guard. Nick Young will start in his second consecutive game over Xavier Henry. And despite resisting in the first week of the regular season, Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni will feature a big frontcourt in Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol.
The thought process behind the lineup switches vary.
Nash will sit for more precautionary reasons than anything health related considering the Lakers arrived in New Orleans at 3 a.m. following the team’s 99-98 victory Thursday in Houston.
“He’s still trying to get his footing,” D’Antoni said of Nash, who has averaged only 8.8 points on 27.9 percent shooting and 5.2 assists in 24.2 minutes per game. “We don’t want any setbacks, If we had a setback that would be tough. I’m nudging him forward a little bit better and getting him more time on the floor. This is a quick turnaround.”
Kaman started his first regular-season with Gasol against Houston. Though the two only combined for eight points, Gasol and Kaman played a large part in limiting the Rockets’ big frontline in Dwight Howard and Omer Asik.
“A lot of times it’s not what an individual does,” D’Antoni said. “They’re beating the heck out of a good team. It’s how guys spend together. I like the rotation last night and it’s easier to get two bigs out. We’re going to keep trying this until they show me otherwise.”
Meeks is coming off a night against Houston where he posted 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
“He’s been great. He was good last year,” D’Antoni said. “I thought he played really well. Defensively he’s been the biggest surprise. Offensively, he’s always at the red. He’s quick and can get it up. He’s learning to have an in between game. He doesn’t have that a lot but that’s okay. His energy and defense has been really good.”
After averaging 17 points on 56.5 percent shooting in 24 minutes in the past two games as a reserve, Young then scored 11 points on a 3 of 9 clip against Houston. Meanwhile, Henry has shot 3 of 13 in the past two games.
“So far Nick has played well coming back up and X was bad,” D’Antoni said. “Then X was good and Nick was bad. We’re messing with it and will get it straight. I’m trying to keep that one unit that’s really good together. That’s the way to to do it.”
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