This season has been full of ups and downs due to injuries as well as the NBA’s health and safety protocols affecting the Los Angeles Lakers all year. But down the stretch, the team has found its stride and now finds itself on a five-game win streak heading into the playoffs.
The Lakers ended their season with a 110-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, their fifth straight win. The Lakers end the year with a record of 42-30, tied for fifth-best in the Western Conference, but they will fall to the seventh seed due to tiebreaker losses to the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers.
Because of this, the Lakers will now host the Golden State Warriors in the first game of the Play-In Tournament and the rest of the playoff run will be decided from there.
Coming into the game, the Lakers had an outside chance at moving into the sixth seed had the Blazers lost to the Denver Nuggets, but Portland blew them out essentially rendering this game meaningless for the Lakers as far as playoff seeding goes.
It did still allow for some on-court time for the team’s injured stars and they took advantage of it as they head into the playoffs. LeBron James finished the contest with 25 points and six assists, including a couple of plays that made it clear that he is looking just like his normal self.
Anthony Davis also added 14 points and five rebounds while Andre Drummond contributed another double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Offensively, the Lakers got basically whatever they wanted against a Pelicans team resting much of their rotation including Zion Williamson as well as the trio of former Lakers in Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Defensively there were issues at times for the defending champions, though they were still able to hold a team under 100 points for the second time in four games.
Dennis Schroder scored 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter while adding four assists, three rebounds and two steals while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also added 10 points and tied for a team-high with six assists. Alex Caruso also returned for the first time in three games finishing with nine points and five assists.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers will host Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the Play-In Game on Wednesday night with the winner locking into the seventh seed and facing the Phoenix Suns in the first round. The loser will host the winner of the game between the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs to determine the eighth seed.
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