After defeating the Atlanta Hawks 109-94 at home on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers began a difficult four games in five days road trip as they began it by traveling to face the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.
The Lakers were boosted by the return of big man Julius Randle though, as he was welcomed back after missing the last three games with a hip injury.
Los Angeles was facing a much improved Pelicans team though, as since the return of point guard Jrue Holiday they were 4-2, winning four straight games before losing their last two. Holiday came off the bench initially, but made his first start of the season Tuesday.
Randle had a difficult assignment in his first game back, as he was the first to try and guard Anthony Davis, who scored the first bucket of the game.
As the Pelicans took an early 6-2 lead, Lakers starting shooting guard Nick Young went down with an Achilles injury. His teammates carried him to the locker room just two minutes into the game. Young missed a game last week with a toe injury, but that was on his left foot while this injury was to his right. He was diagnosed with an Achilles strain forcing him to miss the rest of the game.
Point guard Jose Calderon got off to a rough start, missing his first two three-point attempts and then getting the ball stolen from him, leading to an early 10-2 lead for New Orleans.
Holiday got hot from deep, making his first two threes of the game to put the Pelicans up 18-8. Jordan Clarkson, who replaced Young after the injury, responded with a three of his own though to cut the deficit to seven.
Head coach Luke Walton went to his bench early as Luol Deng was the only starter that remained in the game past the five-minute mark, but they did not have much success to start as the Pelicans went on an 8-0 run to take a 29-13 lead.
Brandon Ingram hit a midrange baseline jumper over former Laker Anthony Brown to end the run. A nice end to the quarter for the Lakers cut the deficit to 33-22 at the end of the first quarter.
Clarkson led the Lakers with nine points while Anthony Davis led all scorers with 13.
A strong start to the second quarter put the Pelicans lead back up to 16. Because of the Young injury, point guard Marcelo Huertas got some rare minutes for the Lakers, and found Tarik Black for a dunk on a pick-and-roll.
Huertas then had a three-point shot blocked by Davis that led to a dunk attempt by Solomon Hill that was blocked by Larry Nance Jr., but Nance was called for a foul.
Hill made the first free throw and missed the second, but Terrence Jones got an offense rebound and followed it with a dunk putting New Orleans up by 17. Randle appeared to have hurt himself on the play leading to a Lakers timeout, although Randle stayed in the game.
Los Angeles struggled from three-point range, as with four minutes left in the second quarter they were 2-for-16 from deep, and the Pelicans lead ballooned to 25 at 57-32.
Deng broke their run of not hitting a three, as he connected from deep to cut the Pelicans lead to 22.
New Orleans closed out the half strong as the Lakers could not get any stops defensively, and New Orleans led 65-41 at halftime.
Davis had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Holiday had 12 points and five assists. Clarkson and Lou Williams tied for the Laker lead with nine points although they combined to shoot 7-of-19 from the field.
Metta World Peace got the start in place of Young to begin the third quarter, meaning that every Laker that was dressed for the game made an appearance.
If they wanted to make a comeback the Lakers needed to make some sort of run in the third quarter, but through the first six minutes of the quarter the teams just exchanged buckets, as the lead remained at 24.
Los Angeles continued to have no answer for Davis and Holiday and Davis hit a runner over Randle and Holiday followed with a three to maintain their lead late in the third.
Back-to-back alley-oops from Williams to Mozgov and Nance to Mozgov cut the lead to 19, forcing Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry to call a timeout.
Good hustle by Nance earned the Lakers an extra possession on their first possession after the timeout, and Williams rewarded him by finding him for a dunk, and the Pelicans lead was 17.
That was as close as it would get in the third though as Davis scored seven straight points to bring it back up to 24. They got the lead up to 26 at 89-63 to end the third quarter.
While many thought the game was out of reach, the Lakers started off the fourth quarter strong defensively and jumped out to a 13-4 run to cut it back to 17, but Holiday drilled a three from the corner to bring it back up to 20.
Walton emptied his bench with the Lakers trailing by 20 with six minutes left in the game. World Peace, Huertas, Ingram, Black and Thomas Robinson were the Lakers unit to finish out the game.
Gentry kept his starters in though until there was 90 seconds left in the game, and Davis continued to dominate as he finished with 41 points, and 16 rebounds and the Pelicans finished off a 105-88 victory.
Williams led the Lakers 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting, while Randle (12) and Mozgov (10) were the only other Lakers in double figures.
The Lakers play their second of a back-to-back tomorrow night as they travel to the Chicago Bulls for a 5 p.m. Pacific time start.