After picking up their first victory of the season in Phoenix on Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers come back home looking to build on that performance against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Lonzo Ball put the world on notice with his near triple-double performance, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Brandon Ingram also rebounded from a rough opener with a career-high 25 points, while Brook Lopez gathered his first double-double of the year with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The Pelicans are led by the most talented big man duo in the NBA as Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins can each hurt you in multiple ways. Additionally, Ball will once again have his hands full as Jrue Holiday is one of the best defensive point guards in the league.
Tonight’s game also marks the regular season Lakers debut of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who missed the first two games of the season with a suspension.
Caldwell-Pope joined the starting lineup in his first game, joining Ball, Ingram, Lopez, and Larry Nance Jr. The Pelicans countered with Cousins, Davis, Holiday, Dante Cunningham, and E’Twaun Moore.
The Lakers struggled offensively out the game, missing their first five shots as New Orleans went ahead 6-0 early on. They finally got on the board on a Ball layup following a steal from Nance. Ball would add a midrange jumper, but the Lakers still trailed 10-5 midway through the first.
The offensive struggles would continue for the Lakers as an Ingram layup and Lopez free throws were all they could add while Davis and Cousins continued to dominate for the Pelicans. Finally, things began to get going later in the quarter for the Lakers as a three from Lopez and KCP steal and slam brought the Lakers back within six.
The teams began trading buckets down the stretch as Brewer and Randle each got on the board. Unfortunately for the Lakers, their defense continued to falter, allowing the Pelicans to pull back ahead by 12, 34-22, after one quarter.
Jordan Clarkson was the only Laker able to get things going offensively for the Lakers while the defense continued to be an issue. Five straight points from Cousins put New Orleans up 17 early in the second, forcing a Luke Walton timeout.
The lead swelled up to 22 after multiple Laker turnovers before they finally got themselves a couple of baskets. Turnovers continued to be an issue for the Lakers as even when they were able to string together baskets, an error would hurt them and allow a Pelicans easy basket.
Back-to-back threes from Kuzma and Clarkson brought the Lakers’ deficit down to a more manageable 14 points, forcing a New Orleans timeout. New Orleans quickly adjusted as Davis took over the game on both ends, pushing the Pelicans back ahead by 22.
An 11-0 Lakers run fueled by a four-point play from KCP followed by a transition three cut the deficit in half. They went into the locker room trailing by 13, but it could’ve been much worse.
Clarkson led the Lakers with 13 points off the bench while KCP added 11. Lonzo Ball had eight points and seven assists. Cousins and Davis led the Pelicans with a combined 26 points and 16 rebounds, while Jrue Holiday added 12 points of his own.
New Orleans jumped out on the Lakers as Davis scored six quick points before a Nance putback gave the Lakers their first basket. Davis continued on his run as the Lakers simply had no answer for the All-Star.
The Lakers had moments of competence on offense as Lopez and KCP each had baskets, but they couldn’t sustain a serious run. Midway through the quarter, trailing by 19, Walton turned to rookie Josh Hart in hopes of injecting the team with some defense and energy.
KCP continued his strong debut, knocking down a jumper and layup to bring his total to 20 points. Anytime the Lakers would have a brief run, the Pelicans would answer with one of their own, maintaining a lead in the 20-point range throughout the quarter.
Much like the second quarter, the Lakers ended the third quarter well as Clarkson converted the Lakers’ second four-point play of the night and found Kuzma for a three to end the quarter as the Lakers somehow crept back to within 11 after three quarters.
The Lakers brought the game within single digits as Randle battled for an offensive rebound and putback to start the fourth. Hart would knock down a three and Clarkson finished a tough layup as the Lakers suddenly cut the lead to six. Clarkson followed with a three and shockingly the Lakers found themselves within a basket.
Clarkson’s hot streak continued as he made a beautiful play to find Randle for the layup. The rookie Hart made Walton look great with an offensive rebound and layup to give the Lakers the lead and Ingram followed with a strong finish over Davis to put the Lakers up three.
Lonzo checked back in and immediately found Randle for an easy layup, but Holiday matched him with a jumper on the other end. Kuzma had another strong performance, hitting a smooth jumper and following it with a pair of free throws as the Lakers lead by five with five minutes left.
The teams traded baskets briefly but the Pelicans fought back to tie the game at 110 with just three minutes left. Unfortunately, the Lakers went cold down the stretch. Free throws from Cousins and a tough Moore floater put New Orleans up by four and a deep three from Jameer Nelson provided the dagger as the Pelicans went up seven with just over a minute remaining.
The Lakers showed great heart in battling back, but ultimately ran out of gas down the stretch and fell to the Pelicans 119-112.