The Los Angeles Lakers sorely needed a win on Wednesday night and with the efforts shown by the entire team, it was obvious they knew it.
LeBron James led the way with 33 points, six rebounds and 10 assists, and Brandon Ingram added 23 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Lakers held on for a 121-115 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The win, combined with losses by the Sacramento Kings and Clippers, moved the Lakers to just two losses behind the Clippers and San Antonio Spurs for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference standings.
The entire Lakers team was engaged from the outset, with multiple defensive efforts that hadn’t been seen since late in their victory against the Houston Rockets, and the end result was a positive one.
While James was the catalyst and Ingram continued his excellent play since the All-Star break, it was undoubtedly a team effort that propelled the Lakers. Kyle Kuzma finished with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, and Rajon Rondo, inserted in the starting lineup, added 11 points and a season-high 16 assists.
Things were not easy for the Lakers as Julius Randle seemed to be on a mission to destroy his former team. He was dominant to the tune of 35 points and six rebounds while Jrue Holiday added 19 points and 10 assists. Anthony Davis had 22 points and eight rebounds in just 21 minutes and didn’t see the floor in the fourth quarter.
James sent the Staples Center crowd into a frenzy on numerous occasions in the victory. First with a massive slam in the first half and later in the third quarter with another jam that was followed by a Kuzma slam dunk to give the Lakers a four-point lead.
James’ biggest moment came late with a one-footed 3-pointer to ice the game in the final minutes.
Lakers role players were also huge as Reggie Bullock scored 14 points, JaVale McGee added 10 off the bench, and Lance Stephenson was a team-high plus-14 and finished with nine points, five rebounds and three assists before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained toe.
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