Pelicans were historically unlucky in loss to Lakers

Malik Beasley & D'Angelo Russell, Los Angles Lakers. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Malik Beasley & D'Angelo Russell, Los Angles Lakers. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Sometimes, it is better to be lucky than good.

The New Orleans Pelicans were not that in their 123-108 loss to the Los Angles Lakers. In fact, some would say they were the exact opposite of that.

To explain, let’s think about this. The Lakers are 27th in the league in three-point makes per game (10.7) and 26th in the league in three-point percentage (34.2%). However, they are tied for fourth in the league in points per game (54.8).

This has changed a little bit since the moves they made at the trade deadline, but for the most part, the Lakers are a team with more interior-centric personnel. So, if they were going to beat the Pelicans last night, it is likely that they would have a great game in the interior, right? After all, that was the case when these two teams last played each other, and the Lakers beat the Pelicans 120-102.

But alas, this go-around, the Pelicans figured some stuff out in that department – winning the points in the paint battle 56 to 38.

So how did they lose by 15? 

Well, the Lakers, the team we just established as one of the worst outside shooting teams in basketball, decided yesterday was the perfect time to shoot the lights out of the gym – canning 18 of their 39 three-point attempts (46.2%).

Meanwhile, the Pelicans, a lackluster three-point shooting team in their own right (22nd in three-point makes per game), could only convert on 11 of their 43 attempts from behind the line (25.6%).

We’ve talked about it before in the team’s loss to the New York Knicks, but on a game-to-game basis, team shooting (a variable sometimes highly influenced by luck) can heavily swing the outcome of a game one way or another. And while that doesn’t explain all that happened yesterday, it does explain a good chunk of the equation.

Coach Willie Green even alluded to this phenomenon a bit in his post-game presser after last night’s loss:

The Pelicans can’t be all mad, though. In the game before (a blowout win against the Portland Trail Blazers), they had the very same shooting disparity benefit them, with the Blazers shooting 30.3% from three and them shooting 47.5%.

It just sucks that their bad luck came during a big game between two teams desperately battling for playoff positioning. After that loss, the Pelicans are now tied with the Utah Jazz for 11th, sitting one game outside the Western Conference Play-In picture.

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