Lakers-Pelicans Preview

The Associated Press

After solid shooting and outstanding defense keyed their recent victories, the New Orleans Pelicans should feel confident about snapping their lengthy skid against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thanks to Steve Blake's clutch shooting, the visiting Lakers are looking to move above .500 without Kobe Bryant.

The Pelicans will try for their third win in four games Friday night when they look to end an 11-game regular-season losing in this series.

For the second time in three games, New Orleans (2-3) put together a complete performance on the way to a blowout victory. Eric Gordon had 19 points and Anthony Davis added 18 and nine rebounds in an impressive 99-84 win in Memphis on Wednesday.

It was New Orleans' first road win and followed a disheartening 104-98 home loss to Phoenix a night earlier. The Pelicans shot 48.7 percent and outrebounded the Grizzlies 39-29.

''We came out with a lot of defensive intensity, moving the ball, sharing the ball pretty well, and we got open shots,'' said Davis, averaging team highs of 21.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 2.2 steals. ''When we play like that, it is tough for us to get beat.''

That also was the formula Saturday when New Orleans shot 49.3 percent from the floor and limited visiting Charlotte to 37.5 percent en route to a 105-84 victory.

Gordon, who has scored 39 points in his last two games, averaged 21.7 and hit 10 of 21 from 3-point range in three games versus Los Angeles last season. He missed one of the early-season meetings while recovering from a right knee injury.

The Pelicans hope to end their struggles with their first regular-season win against the Lakers (3-3) since March 29, 2010. They also lost 4-2 to Los Angeles in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.

The Lakers have had Bryant in all but one game during their run in this series, though they've found ways to win two of their last three without him this season.

Los Angeles built a stunning 17-point first-quarter lead Thursday, but needed Blake's 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining to seal a 99-98 win in Houston over former Laker Dwight Howard and the Rockets.

"This is huge mainly because we've struggled our last two away games," said Blake, referring to the Lakers' losses by a combined 50 points at Golden State and Dallas. "We've gotten blown out and for us to come back and play the way we did, I think it says a lot about the character of our team."

The Lakers made tremendous strides defensively against one of the NBA's highest-scoring teams, limiting Houston to a season-worst 37.7 shooting percentage while forcing a season-high 18 turnovers.

Jodie Meeks, who had 18 points and hit five 3-pointers Thursday, scored 19 with five 3s as the Lakers outscored the then-Hornets 33-9 in the fourth quarter en route to a 108-102 win in their last trip to New Orleans on March 6.

Pau Gasol looks to regroup after averaging 9.3 points on 10-of-37 shooting (27.0 percent) in his last three games - including a two-point, 1-for-10 effort in Houston. He finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds in a 104-96 win over visiting New Orleans on April 9 that gave Los Angeles a four-game sweep in the season series.

The Lakers are expected to be without Steve Nash as part of the team's plan to give the veteran rest in the second of back-to-back games.

The Pelicans are likely to be missing Ryan Anderson, who has yet to play because of a chipped bone in his toe.

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