After putting up 75 points while knocking down a franchise record 15 three pointers in the 1st half, the Lakers held off a spirited 2nd half from the Pelicans to win in 123-108 in New Orleans Tuesday night. The game brings the Lakers back to within a game of .500 with a chance to reach that mark Wednesday night when they travel to Houston.
The Lakers offensive explosion started right away when they jumped out to a 14-0 lead that was powered by ball movement, shot making, and a determined focus to bounce back from Sunday’s loss to the Knicks.
Nowhere was this more evident than with Anthony Davis who scored eight of those first 14 points, and 14 total in the 1st quarter. Whether it was on duck-ins for tough finishes inside or via his jumper, AD had it going early and set the tone for his team that this was not going to be a repeat performance.
Then, over the course of the rest of the game, Davis’ general aggression never waned and he continued to get downhill to score inside, be it on cuts for finishes off nifty passes, getting to the offensive glass for putbacks, or simply getting to the foul line. Davis finished 11-18 from the field and hit 12 of his 13 free throw attempts for a game high 35 points to go along with 17 rebounds.
Beyond AD’s big night, the Lakers offensive explosion was fueled by the long ball. And while six Lakers hit at least one shot from distance, it was Malik Beasley whose hot hand paced the team. En route to 24 points for the game, Beasley knocked down seven of his 12 attempts from deep, letting his shot go with confidence and without hesitation.
Whether he was moving off screens or receiving handoffs, stepping into shots in transition, or simply getting looks via good ball movement, Beasley showed his versatility as a shooter and how dangerous he can be when he really gets it going.
And, as noted, Beasley wasn’t alone in getting up threes. Both D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura hit multiple three-pointers in the 1st half, while AD and Troy Brown Jr. chipped in with one make each. And while the Lakers did an excellent job of taking and making some difficult shots for sure, many of these looks came off great ball movement where the players exhibited an unselfishness to turn down a good shot in favor of getting a great one.
Of course, the NBA is a game of runs and even though the Lakers went up by as many 40 points early in the 3rd quarter, the Pelicans did not just roll over and fold. After a string of defensive stops and some timely shot making from the likes of Brandon Ingram (22 points, 9-17 shooting) and Trey Murphy III (20 points, 7-14 shooting, four made threes), the Pelicans clawed back into the game, cutting the Lakers’ lead in half to 20 points just a couple of minutes into the 4th quarter.
Throughout the final frame, then, both teams continued to battle in the hopes of swinging the momentum back in their favor. The Pelicans never did give in, but neither did the Lakers, ratcheting back up their defensive intensity and getting just enough timely plays to fend off New Orleans and coast to another convincing win.
And with this victory, the Lakers are now 9-4 after the trade deadline and will look to keep that momentum going in Houston on a back-to-back Wednesday night.