The Los Angeles Lakers were looking to end a five-game losing streak, but standing in their way were the much-improved New Orleans Pelicans who welcomed back star forward Anthony Davis.
Kobe Bryant also returned for the Lakers after missing the team’s previous two games and Ronnie Price also returned after missing two games with an injured elbow. The Pelicans would be without their starting point guard Jrue Holiday with a leg injury.
The Lakers came into the game with a record of 12-30, and lost their first two meetings with the Pelicans. New Orleans came into the game with a 20-21 record, four games behind the Phoenix Suns for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Both teams got off to a slow start, but Kobe Bryant hit Ed Davis for a beautiful layup and the foul for the Lakers’ first basket of the game. Tyreke Evans quickly responded for the Pelicans and free throws by both teams left them tied at four early in the quarter. Eric Gordon hit a three to to put New Orleans ahead by five, but Kobe responded with a beautiful crossover and basket. A layup from Omer Asik put New Orleans ahead 11-7 midway through the quarter. Anthony Davis put New Orleans up six with a hook shot, but Ed Davis hit Jordan Hill for a nice dunk. Free throws kept the Lakers close, but an easy layup from Gordon kept New Orleans up four. The teams traded free throws and Jeremy Lin hit a three to tie the game at 20. Another Evans layup put the Pelicans ahead 22-20 at the end of the first quarter.
Wayne Ellington got things going for the Lakers with a three to put them ahead briefly before Evans put the Pelicans back ahead with a layup. Jeremy Lin had a quick four-point spurt that was again matched by Evans, this time a three that tied the game at 27. A turnover led to a beautiful fast break by the Lakers that resulted in an Ellington layup. The teams traded the lead a couple of times before a three from Nick Young put the Lakers ahead 34-31 midway through the quarter. After a basket from Quincy Pondexter, Lin would hit Ed Davis for a nice lob to keep the Lakers ahead. A bizarre play as Kobe attempted a pass that hit off Asik’s back, Kobe would pick the ball up and hit a fadeaway. Nick Young then stole the inbounds pass for a layup and foul that put the Lakers ahead by nine. The Pelicans would chip away at the lead behind Anthony Davis and Gordon. A layup from Gordon cut the Lakers lead down to three, but a Wesley Johnson fadeaway put the Lakers right back ahead by five. Back-to-back baskets from the Pelicans cut the Lakers lead to one at halftime.
Eric Gordon hit a jumper to start the half for the Pelicans, but the Lakers responded with a dunk from Hill on a beautiful assist from Kobe. A midrange jumper from Hill put the Lakers ahead by two. Two straight jumpers from Anthony Davis was matched by an Ed Davis basket as the teams were tied at 50. Anthony Davis continued a strong third quarter with a three-point play, but Kobe hit a jumper and a three to keep the Lakers up before Gordon got a layup to keep things tied. Kobe Bryant drove baseline for a huge dunk, but Anthony Davis hit another jumper. A turnover led to a Evans layup and foul as the Pelicans pushed ahead by five. Boozer survived a block from Anthony Davis to get a layup, and Hill followed with a jumper to cut the deficit to one. Ellington kept his good game going with his second three of the game followed by a steal and two free throws to put the Lakers back ahead by a point. Lin lost the ball on a fastbreak allowing Pondexter to get a layup that put the Pelicans ahead 69-68 after three quarters.
Quincy Pondexter hit two free throws for the Pelicans, but both teams struggled offensively at the outset of the quarter. An Anthony Davis three-point play pushed New Orleans ahead by six and another Davis jumper put them up eight with nine minutes remaining. Gordon gave the Pelicans their first double-digit lead of the night. Two Ellington free throws finally gave the Lakers their first points of the quarter, but baskets by Gordon and Ryan Anderson put New Orleans up 12. Young finally hit a nice three, but Anderson matched him immediately on the other end. The Pelicans kept up their strong quarter as a Pondexter three-point play kept them ahead double-digits. Kobe returned, but his right shoulder was clearly bothering him forcing him to do everything with his left arm. He hit a fadeaway, but the Lakers continued to fall behind and were unable to make up any major ground. Kobe was finally taken out and went back to the locker room with a minute remaining in the game. One last basket by Evans provided the final score as the Lakers fell 96-80.[divide]
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