The Los Angeles Lakers sure know how to shine an enormous amount of negative national media attention towards the New Orleans Pelicans. During the ESPN-televised regular-season finale, Willie Green's group did little to stem the tide spurred on by LeBron James. The two teams came into the game facing drastically different final-day situations but now find themselves on the same footing going into an NBA Play-In Tournament rematch.

The Pelicans got revenge on Draymond Green to wrap up an undefeated road trip. Zion Williamson was playing inspired defense and the team had a win-and-your-in opportunity at home against the Lakers. The sixth seed and a date versus the shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves after a week off was on the table. New Orleans nixed that pathway with a pitiful start-to-finish performance in front of an electric Smoothie King Center crowd.

Green was trying to find silver linings while detailing adjustments that must be made for Tuesday's rematch.

“(The Lakers) played with a ton of force,” complimented Green. “They came out right away and in that first half punched us right in the mouth and they kept going. We let a really good opportunity slip away…We know it but we put ourselves in a position to get a home game (in the NBA Play-In Tournament). Now we have to take advantage of it.”

The punch in the mouth left New Orleans stunned. The timid Pelicans played scared to foul and it led to a huge points in the paint discrepancy (50-12) at halftime. New Orleans was missing easy looks while practically escorting the entire Los Angeles roster to the rim.

Green could not help but be critical when asked to compare the effort of both teams in such a crucial game.

“That's a determining factor,” Green admitted. “When teams get in your paint they are physical, they are driving the ball. Then we don't have rotations down. (Points in the paint) are a determining factor. It shows you the physicality they played with and the lack of physicality we played with.”

Pelicans making obvious effort adjustments for Play-In

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dribbles against New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) during the second half at Smoothie King Center.
© Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Green tried throwing everything at the wall in the frontcourt hoping to find a solution to Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Cody Zeller even logged four minutes but nothing worked. New Orleans will have to come up with something to confuse Anthony Davis and LeBron James but much of the problems were a breakdown in fundamentals.

The third-year coach was not shy about calling out the locker room's lethargic play.

“We have to come back with the right mentality,” stressed Green. “They were the aggressors. We have to be the more aggressive team. We have to be the more physical team. We have to keep them out of our paint and make them take contested shots. We've got to rebound the ball. It's all things we didn't do for a sustained amount of time (in the loss). Then we've got to take care of the ball, 19 turnovers. We had been doing a great job offensively of taking care of the ball. We came back today and they scored 27 points off of our turnovers. That's another factor.”

Give the Lakers credit. Their bread-and-butter play was producing results. The Pelicans could not stop it, and that's a problem going into the postseason. If New Orleans wins, they'll face Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets. If they lose but advance into the eighth seed, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's Oklahoma City Thunder await.

“(The Lakers) are really good with pick and rolls, pocket passes, Davis getting behind the defense or catching it and they've got cutters. So it's something that we will look at on film when we get back to work tomorrow,” Green shared. “We've got to see this team again. Tough loss for us. We know what the deal was. They came out and were the aggressors. When you're the aggressive team, things go your way. They had us on our heels all game.”

Zion Williamson did not do well when the Lakers packed the paint on defense.

“(The Lakers) were physical on him. They packed the paint. When they are doing that we have to trust each other. We've got to trust getting off the ball, the next guy is driving and kicking. Now the dominoes fall but that initial drive, with a good defensive team, they're in there. They're packing the paint. Davis is there shadowing (Williamson). We didn't do a good job of adjusting to that.”

As for what Green has to see for the Pelicans to have a chance on Tuesday, a bit more life and energy goes a long way regardless of who is available. Thankfully, Brandon Ingram got through the first game back from a knee contusion injury unscathed.

“Sense of urgency. Understanding what we are playing for. Going out together like we've done the past few games and bringing it from start to finish…” Green said. “But Ingram will be fine. It was good to get him back. We'll get back to practice tomorrow and get a little work in but we needed a team rhythm with our substitutions to get the right guys in at the right times.”