The Los Angeles Lakers took on the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night in a game with massive Play-In implications.
L.A. carried a 0.5 game lead over Now Orleans for ninth in the West. For a while it looked like the Lakers were gonna widen that gap as they led by as many as 23 in the first half, although they fell apart in the second half and eventually fell, 116-108, on the road.
LeBron James returned to the lineup and looked energized with nearly a week off, scoring eight quick points to put the Lakers up 10-0. James finally cooled off from the field, but Los Angeles’ defense stifled New Orleans’ half court offense until CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram got going.
The Lakers started to taper off on both ends which the Pelicans took advantage of, and eventually made it a three-point game after a McCollum layup. However, Malik Monk and Russell Westbrook were able to pick up the scoring load and L.A. took a 31-23 lead into the second.
James tweaked his left ankle going for a rebound early in the second, but was fortunately able to stay in the game. However, he looked clearly hobbled and the Pelicans wasted no time going on a 10-2 run to get back within three.
King James managed to shake off the ankle tweak as he proceeded to hit a pair of threes, while Talen Horton-Tucker and Monk got favorable looks of their own to put L.A. back up by 15. James and the rest of the Lakers caught a great offensive rhythm with their outside shots falling, and the Lakers would take a 69-49 lead into the half.
It was a bit of slower start to the third for the Lakers, though they still maintained a healthy double-digit lead over the Pelicans. However, things quickly changed as they allowed a New Orleans run that cut their advantage to single digits.
The Pelicans outside shooting kept them dangerously close, but the Lakers were able to answer on the other end to keep them momentarily at bay. Without James on the floor, though, New Orleans continued to pour it on and their 40-point quarter only made it a 94-90 Laker lead going into the final period.
L.A. failed to keep track of Trey Murphy III who kept his hot shooting alive, tying the game up at 96-96 after another triple. The Pelicans briefly took the lead after a McCollum jumper, but Horton-Tucker was able to draw free throws to make it a one-point game after splitting the pair.
Monk was kept the Laker offense afloat with a couple of tough finishes in the lane, but the team trailed 107-105 after Ingram made his trip to the line. Monk again kept L.A. within striking distance, but ultimately their cold shooting led to their demise.
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