|Lakers face test against Pelicans' big men|
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers don't have the personnel to match up well against strong post teams, and they'll face two of the best big men in the NBA when they host the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on Sunday evening.
The Pelicans (0-2) feature power forwards Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in their starting lineup. Davis, Cousins and point guard Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder were the only NBA players to finish in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding last season.
Davis averaged career highs of 28 points and 11.8 rebounds in 75 games last season, his fifth in the NBA. He also finished second in the NBA in blocked shots at 2.2 a game.
Cousins, who was traded to New Orleans from the Sacramento Kings in February, averaged a career-high 27.8 points in his seventh NBA year, while also pulling down 10.6 rebounds last season.
Davis opened this season with 33 points and 18 rebounds in a 103-91 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. Cousins had 28 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks.
In a 128-120 loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Friday, Davis had 35 points and 17 rebounds and Cousins had 35 points, 14 rebounds and four steals.
"We've just got to continue to grow from here," Cousins told The Times-Picayune after the Golden State loss, in which the Pelicans led by 15 in the first half. " I think we're in a good place."
Cousins was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Saturday for directing "inappropriate language" at a fan on Wednesday.
The Lakers (1-1) were overcome by a 31-10 deficit in second-chance points in their season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. Behind 29 points and 12 rebounds from Blake Griffin and 14 points and 24 rebounds from DeAndre Jordan, the Lakers were no match inside against the Clippers.
"They killed us on second chance points," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.
Sunday's game will also feature an intriguing point guard matchup between ex-UCLA players Lonzo Ball of the Lakers and Jrue Holiday of the Pelicans.
Ball, the No. 2 overall draft pick last June, was unremarkable in his NBA debut against the Clippers, but was impressive and appeared more comfortable in a 132-130 victory at the Phoenix Suns on Friday, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
"I just had to do what I had to do to get the win," Ball told the Orange County Register. "I had to shoot more shots, so that's what I did. It doesn't take me long to learn."
Ball is sure to make the Lakers a speedier team, which should improve their fast-break capabilities. Transition defense has been an area of focus for the Pelicans.
"We've been fine in half-court defense, even against Memphis we were fine, but we've just given up a lot of transition buckets," Davis said. "Our biggest key is just making sure we don't give up anything in transition."
Holiday wasn't at UCLA when Ball was, but he's familiar with what he brings to the game.
"The Lakers, of course, have Lonzo pushing the ball," he said. "We've got to be ready for it."