If fans want to talk about hostile environments, they would be hard-pressed to find anything crazier than the Smoothie King Center on the night Anthony Davis made his return there in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.
Davis vilified himself to the New Orleans Pelicans and their fans after requesting a trade a couple of weeks before the 2018-19 NBA trade deadline and fans were ready to let him have it in his highly-anticipated return.
The Lakers were intent on making sure Davis had a performance to remember but in doing so got away from their normal game plan, allowing the Pelicans to jump ahead early and maintain that lead throughout most of the game. The Pelicans led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter and had a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
However, Davis and LeBron James decided to take over the game. James scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter while Davis dominated on both ends of the floor. Kyle Kuzma added nine points in the quarter and hit a go-ahead three-pointer with just one minute remaining. With the Lakers up by two with five seconds remaining, Davis stole the inbounds pass and then knocked down a pair of clutch free throws to ice a 114-110 comeback win.
Davis finished with 41 points, nine rebounds, and three steals while James added 29 points and 11 assists. Kuzma finished with 16 points off the bench while Alex Caruso had one of his typical low-stat, high-impact games.
Jrue Holiday led New Orleans with 29 points and 12 assists while Brandon Ingram added 23 points and 10 rebounds, but shot just 4-of-21 from the field as Los Angeles suffocated the former Laker defensively.
In fact, defense was the name of the game for the Lakers, especially in the paint as they held the Pelicans to just 40.5 percent shooting overall, despite them knocking down 17 three-pointers. The Lakers were also able to force 19 Pelicans turnovers but struggled cleaning up the glass as their opponent grabbed 13 offensive rebounds.
When the 2019-20 NBA schedule was released, this was one game that was circled on everyone’s calendar and it delivered. The Lakers tried too hard to give Davis his shining moment and it almost cost them. But when it came down to it, they turned things up and it still was a memorable night for Davis in his return to New Orleans.