As the Lakers prepare to play host to New Orleans on Sunday (6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet), the script seems to have flipped for “La La Land” and “The Pelican Briefs.”
Newly cemented New Orleans teammates DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis scored or assisted on 67 of the Pelicans’ 99 points in their first game together last week after the trade deadline. But they still lost to Houston by 30 points. They combined for 51 points and 29 rebounds one night later, and lost by 13 to Dallas, as New Orleans only had 34 second-half points.
Somehow in this equation, one plus one must equal three, as former Campbell Hall and UCLA star guard Jrue Holiday ups his game as the established point guard here, the one who ultimately feeds the bigs. Holiday took a leave of absence from the first 12 games of this season as his wife, former UCLA and U.S. national team star Lauren Holiday, underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. New Orleans has played itself back into a contender for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference and has less than two dozen games left to fix things and Holiday could be the biggest difference maker.
“He’s not one of the real vocal leaders, but I think he kind of leads by example,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said recently. “When he wasn’t with us, we didn’t have that on the floor — forget about all the leadership, he’s a talent, and you’ve gotta have talent in this league to win. So we missed the talent as much as anything, and then when you add in the leadership, and those other characteristics, it’s an integral part of this team that you’re missing.”
What’s missing from the Lakers, who missed on their attempts to acquire Cousins, can be seen on a nightly basis.
What else is on tap locally and nationally in the sports week ahead at this link.