The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to give LeBron James the help he needed to win an NBA championship.
It worked as James and Davis led the Lakers to the title in their first season together last year.
But neither star player will be available for Los Angeles when it visits Davis’ former team on Tuesday night.
Davis has been out the past five weeks because of a calf strain, and James is out indefinitely because of a high-ankle sprain he suffered against Atlanta on Saturday.
In the first full game in James’ absence, the Lakers lost at Phoenix 111-94 on Sunday.
Guard Dennis Schroder, who had 22 points, said playing without James and Davis is “totally opposite” of how the team played with them.
“I think we’ve got to move the ball, we’ve got to play with more pace,” Schroder said. “On the defensive end, we’ve got to be more scrappy, and everybody who is coming on the floor has got to be confident to knock down the shot or to impact the game on the defensive end.”
L.A. fell behind the Suns 10-2 and never led. The Lakers shot 41.2 percent from the field, including 5-of-25 on 3-pointers.
“It’s going to take a lot,” said Montrezl Harrell, who led the Lakers with 23 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. “It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. We’re still learning.”
Coach Frank Vogel acknowledged him team’s poor shooting but praised its effort.
“It is going to take a little time as we adjust, figure out where the shots are coming from and what our new identity is going to look like,” he said. “We’re gonna continue to compete and honor the game the right way and compete the right way and win as many games as possible during this stretch.”
The Pelicans bounced back from two losses in Portland to beat host Denver 113-108 on Sunday, defeating one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
“We executed how you had to at the end of the game to win,” New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Over the course of the game, we fought really, really hard against a team that was playing as well, if not better, than any other team in the West.”
The Pelicans took control by outscoring Denver 36-21 in the second quarter and responded every time the Nuggets made a push.
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram each scored 30 points as the Pelicans overcame the absence of point guard Lonzo Ball, who was sidelined by a strained hip flexor.
“We’re figuring out how to stretch the defense a little bit,” said Ingram, who also had eight assists.
Ingram converted two 3-point plays and fed Williamson for a dunk to keep the Pelicans in front down the stretch. New Orleans made 13 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“In those late-game situations, me and (Ingram) kind of looked at each other like, ‘All right, you know what we need to do,'” said Williamson, who has scored 20 or more points in 20 consecutive games. “We’re at a point where we can say two or three words late in the game, and we know what we have to do.”
The Lakers have won the past seven games against the Pelicans dating to 2019.
–Field Level Media