After suffering back-to-back losses, the Los Angeles Lakers have finally returned to the win column with a 125-119 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night at Staples Center. Winning the remaining games of the 2018-19 NBA season is very important for the Lakers as they currently sit out of the playoff race in the Western Conference.
In their recent game against the Pelicans, the Lakers used a different starting lineup featuring LeBron James at center, together with Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Reggie Bullock, and Rajon Rondo. Lakers head coach Luke Walton is aware of the advantages and disadvantages of executing their own version of the Golden State Warriors’ “Death Lineup,” but he’s not ruling out the possibility using it again when they face the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, according to SB Nation’s Silver Screen And Roll.
“I think we just had a sense of urgency on the defensive end. Trying to stay connected and trying to follow the game plan and trying to rebound the basketball to start our offense,” Walton said. “We’ll see if we stay with this group for next game. I haven’t gotten to Milwaukee yet and they have all sorts of matchup problems, but if that’s the group we have, then okay, we’re quicker and more athletic. We can be more aggressive on the ball and try to force turnovers, and look to get out and run.”
With the “Death Lineup,” the Lakers executed a promising performance on the offensive end of the floor. Three of the Lakers’ starters — LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram — finished the game with at least 20 points on above 50.0 percent shooting from the field. Rajon Rondo also looked comfortable with the Lakers’ “Death Lineup” as he posted 16 assists against his former team.
David Beckham and Floyd Mayweather watch on from courtside as LeBron James leads LA Lakers past New Orleans Pelicans with 33-point haul https://t.co/eSQRNHQ7Pj
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) February 28, 2019
However, using the same strategy, the Lakers showed lots of flaws on the defensive end of the floor. In the 21 minutes that LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Reggie Bullock, and Rajon Rondo played together, the Lakers allowed 125.5 points per 100 possessions. Despite grabbing a victory, the Lakers’ “Death Lineup” posted -14.7 net rating against the Pelicans.
With 6-foot-8 LeBron James playing at the center, Pelicans big men Anthony Davis and Julius Randle easily bullied the Lakers in the paint. That will definitely be a major problem when they play against the Bucks team who has Brook Lopez playing at center and Giannis Antetokounmpo at power forward. If the Lakers’ “Death Lineup” don’t improve their defense, they could suffer another massive defeat on Friday night at Staples Center.