Julius Randle received a warm welcome and scored in double-figures in his first visit to Staples Center since signing with the New Orleans Pelicans but it wasn’t enough as the Los Angeles Lakers came away with a 112-104 win to span a two-game losing skid.
Randle’s first game against his former teammates was one of the many storylines heading into the night, as it was also the first time Anthony Davis and LeBron James were on the same court since the latter openly welcomed the opportunity to play with one of the game’s best big men.
Both Davis and James missed shootaround with their respective team due to illness, but neither showed much effects of it during the game. James was slow to get his scoring going but registered seven of the Lakers’ first eight assists of the game en route to tallying a triple-double.
He found Ivica Zubac early and often, with the young center taking advantage of an opportunity to start for JaVale McGee who remained out because of flu-like symptoms and an upper respiratory infection.
The Lakers stretched their lead to 11 points late in the second quarter but saw that cut into and reached halftime leading 69-65. Davis’ effort amounted to registering a double-double in the first half for the first time this season.
The Lakers mounted an 8-0 run in the third quarter but like previous moments in the game, weren’t able to take full control. They mustered just one field goal over the final five minutes, and Jrue Holiday’s 3-pointer to beat the buzzer trimmed the Pelicans’ deficit to 94-88.
With the Lakers still holding a six-point edge nearly halfway through the fourth quarter, Lonzo Ball connected on a 3-pointer to give the team all five starters in double-digits. The Lakers were still unable to put the Pelicans away and they remained within two baskets down the stretch.
James’ driving layup put the Lakers up by seven points with just over two minutes, and wound up providing enough cushion for them to hang on.