It was an even start out of the gate as the Lakers and Pelicans traded baskets, but New Orleans was much more aggressive attacking in transition. Kyle Kuzma, starting in place of Anthony Davis, got loose for a pair of dunks in the halfcourt, but Zion Williamson answered on the other end.
LeBron James looked to get going on offense as he used his size and strength to bully his way to the rim and finish in the paint. Brandon Ingram dominated the final minutes of the quarter for New Orleans and Los Angeles found themselves down 33-29.
Neither team had issues scoring near the basket to begin the second quarter as they both got into the lane on several occasions, but the Pelicans managed to keep their slim advantage. Los Angeles briefly took the lead, but New Orleans regained control after the former went small to match the latter’s speed.
Markieff Morris provided some scoring punch off the bench for the Lakers, but the Pelicans continued to race out and get easy layups on the break. The tempo of the game picked up considerably but a deep three from James and lay in from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put the purple and gold up 63-61 going into halftime.
The Lakers got off to a solid start to the third quarter as they executed much better on the offensive end, while also managing to contain Williamson every time he touched the ball. However, New Orleans went on a 9-0 run to tie the game back up midway through the period.
The Lakers were able to retake the momentum after settling in on the defensive end and knocking down shots, but the Pelicans battled back to keep the game close. The bench unit struggled to maintain the lead, but went into the fourth down 95-93.
The Pelicans seized control and extended their lead to begin the final frame as Williamson bulldozed his way to the basket, but the Lakers responded with a quick 11-0 run to retake the lead. James began to assert his dominance on both ends, stripping Williamson and backing down his defender for an easy score.
It was a tight contest down the stretch as both teams traded big shots with the Lakers managing to keep the Pelicans at bay.
In the final minute, James missed a deep three but JaVale McGee grabbed the offensive rebound and scored on a putback to ice the game.