Lakers fans find themselves hoping for anything positive at this stage of the season. Having won only one out of seven games going into Wednesday is not exactly something to be excited about.
Last night against the Grizzles the Lakers were competitive. They were down 15 with six minutes left and cut the lead to three with only 60 seconds to play against a playoff team. The last place Lakers headed into New Orleans with a glimmer of hope.
For the second straight game, a member of the Lakers was a part of a homecoming. Head coach Byron Scott made his return to NOLA on Wednesday after his five year career with the organization.
Kobe and company would be occupied all night by the exterior athleticism of Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans. It would not get an easier inside as emerging star Anthony Davis has become one of the elite big men in the league.
The Lakers started on a good note creating a turnover and finishing on a Kobe/Jeremy Lin give and go. After an Eric Gordon and-one, Wes Johnson hit an outside jump shot. On the next Lakers possession Johnson attacked the rim for a three-point play of his own. However, the Pelicans would go on an 8-0 run to make the lead 13-7. After a Lakers timeout, Byron Scott called a play to post Carlos Boozer who went to the line for two free throws. Lin, shortly after, pushed the ball up the floor for a Kobe finish under the basket. The Lakers interior defense continued to be exposed as the Pelicans drove into the line and dished it off to the open man. After a Kobe bank shot from the charity stripe the score was 19-14 in favor of New Orleans. Kobe dropped in a three, but Tyreke Evans drove into the lane for a layup. Kobe retaliated with another three hitting his third of the first quarter. Jordan Hill cleaned up a Kobe miss on the next possession and the quarter ended with the Lakers in the lead 25-23.
The second quarter started with Kobe on the bench, but rookie Jordan Clarkson was aggressive and looked for his shot. Although he missed, it set up Boozer for a an easy put back. Ed Davis got into the mix showing his offensive skills on the low block and Boozer attacked again to earn one free throw to make the Lakers lead two early in the period. Boozer went at the rim again for a left-handed two, but Ryan Anderson responded with a three-pointer. Clarkson did his best Steve Nash impression by dribbling in a circle-like motion under the basket to find himself open for a runner. Evans scored fairly easily against the young Clarkson, but Davis scored on a typical left-handed layup at the cup. Off of a turnover Xavier Henry torpedoed down the lane for the uncontested bucket. The Lakers had a three-point lead with a little under six minutes remaining in the half. Kobe made a very nice pass to Boozer for a shot on the right baseline for his 11th points of the night. But, Kobe was feeling it adding his 16th point on a fade-away. Lin drove hard to the cup and found Hill underneath for the dunk but Anthony Davis responded with an easy layup to make the score 46-43 in favor of the Pelicans. After an Evans three and a Davis alley-oop, the Lakers trailed by four as the quarter died down. The Lakers ended the half the same way they started it with a Johnson bucket from inside the arc to make the score 51-48 at the half.
Davis started the quarter with a floater in the lane for the Pelicans. But Hill and Lin hit shots on consecutive possessions. Hill stayed aggressive and converted on a three-point play to tie the game early in the quarter. The Lakers continued to allow inside buckets as the Pelicans extended the lead, but Lin hit a three to narrow the gap to four. Holiday hit a three and Davis hit a jumper to make the score 68-60 halfway through the period. Kobe bailed the Lakers out towards the end of the shot clock for his fourth three in seven attempts. He then went to the charity stripe for the first time to bring the Lakers within five. Evans hit a three, but Johnson responded with one of his own and then Holiday scored as action began to pick up speed. Holiday was aggressive scoring on six straight Pelicans points as the Lakers trailed by nine with two minutes to go in the quarter. As the quarter came towards the end, Kobe drove to the lane and drew a foul to add two more to his total of 25. But, the Lakers trailed by 15 going into the final 12 minutes 85-72.
The Pelicans came out hitting on two long threes to extend the lead to 19 early in the quarter. The Lakers did not have enough firepower to compete with the majority of their starters on the bench. Clarkson showed some speed by taking the ball the length of the court to draw a foul to add one free throw. He again ran the fast break and finished this time for a layup in traffic. On the other end, frustration set in as Ronnie Price fouled Austin Rivers across the face to pick up a flagrant two and earn himself an ejection from the game. Kobe did what he could as the Pelicans continued to score. He hit a three and after a Anderson three, Bryant converted on a three-point play the old fashioned way for his 31st points of the night. The Lakers trailed 101-81 with over seven minutes remaining. Kobe also facilitated by finding Boozer for a long jump shot to record his 12th and 13th points. After one Boozer free throw the lead was cut to 18 with six minutes left in the game. The comeback would be prevented as the Pelicans kept scoring inside. Davis had 25 points with three minutes remaining. Both teams emptied their bench down the stretch as the game was out of hand. The Lakers bench put a dent in the lead to make the score look closer than what it was, but the Lakers would fall again 109-102.[divide]
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