We were all treated to a high-octane ballgame on Sunday as the Los Angeles Lakers went up against the New Orleans Pelicans. It was L.A. who emerged with the 122-114 victory on the evening, but given how exciting the contest proved to be, fans could not help but talk about this potential first-round playoffs matchup.
For his part, Pelicans guard Josh Hart admitted that there was some extra spice in facing the Lakers, especially when you take into account last summer’s blockbuster trade centered around Anthony Davis.
“Us being here, and if (Davis) stays there, that’s going to be the talk just about every year, whenever we play them, playing them in the playoffs, it’s gonna be ‘who won the trade,’ this, that and the other,” Hart said, via The Athletic’s Joe Vardon.
Hart, who himself was part of the Davis deal, then dialed it back a bit, saying that the revenge narrative has mellowed out a bit of late.
“First game we were down here, second game at Staples Center, you’re going back to where you were the first two years, walking through the tunnel and the court and all of that,” Hart said. “But after the first game, really, it’s kind of dead. I don’t think that we care that much about the trade anymore. It’s not a headline. I’m sure AD and the Lakers don’t really care that much for that headline, so it’s just like going out there and playing basketball.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel seemed to echo Hart’s thoughts. According to the 46-year-old coach, he is content with taking a day-by-day approach, without paying too much mind to potential playoff matchups.
“We’re still in the midst of habit building and trying to build an identity of a team that plays harder than our opponent every night,” Vogel said. “And that’s what the regular season is about — building those habits that are going to win for us in the playoffs. And any talk of potential playoff matchups don’t really enter my mind.”
Right now, the Lakers are five and a half games clear at the very top of the Western Conference and are the heavy favorites to finish as the top seed. On the other hand, the Pelicans are still battling for the eighth and final spot for the postseason, as they currently sit at ninth with three games behind the eight-placed Memphis Grizzlies.