Pelicans rally in second half to beat Lakers, end losing skid
As usual when a certain team from Los Angeles arrives in New Orleans, there were a lot of Lakers jerseys seen Saturday at Smoothie King Center.
Those fans enjoyed what they saw for three quarters but were deflated and left depressed. T
hanks to a superb effort by the home team when it mattered most, the hometown fans exited delighted and delirious.
Brandon Ingram is back. The star forward scored a season high 35 points to lift New Orleans to a 131-126 victory over the Lakers. It was the most points scored by New Orleans since Jan. 9 in a 132-112 win at Washington.
Amazingly, Ingram, who looked good with 26 points in a loss at Dallas Thursday night, did not score a point in the first quarter.
The Pelicans could not stop the Lakers in any fashion for three quarters. With the game on the line in the final quarter, the Pelicans ramped up their defense and got a slew of huge stops while the New Orleans offense thrived.
Needing to get off to a fast start, the Pelicans did not.
On the first possession of the game, LeBron James found Anthony Davis for an easy dunk.
Patrick Beverly got his first foul near the mid-court line just 25 seconds into the game.
Then, Beverly got a loose ball foul from Ingram just 10 seconds later.
Ingram turned the ball over and committed two fouls in the first 1:29 of the game and had to take a seat. That would not be an indicator of what was to come.
Davis dunked again for his second basket and it was too easy.
CJ McCollum picked up the slack and was brilliant in the quarter, scoring 14 points on 4 of 4 shooting from the field and 5 of 5 from the free throw line.
Davis had nine points in the quarter for the Lakers.
Ingram turned it on in the second quarter, scoring 16 points.
It is a good thing Ingram did so as the Lakers blitzed the Pelicans for 40 points in the quarter as New Orleans simply could not get a stop. When the Pelicans got a rare miss by Los Angeles, the Lakers simply got an offensive rebound and scored and took their largest lead of the game at 72-61 by halftime.
The Lakers shot 55 percent from the field, outscored New Orleans 18-6 from three-point range and 12-9 at the free throw line and had a huge 17-8 lead in fast break points in the half as the Pelicans displayed poor transition defense. Los Angeles reserves outscored New Orleans reserves 27-15. The Pelicans had eight turnovers while the Lakers had just two turnovers, playing a nearly flawless half of basketball.
Davis finished the half with 18 points and Russell Westbrook scored 12 off the bench.
The Lakers had a 7-0 run in the third quarter but the Pelicans battled back and cut the deficit to 106-103 heading to the final quarter.
The Pelicans lost a key component when Jonas Valanciunas left the game late in the third quarter with a right knee injury. Valanciunas played very well, scoring 18 points with 14 rebounds and five assists in just 24 minutes played.
Early in the fourth quarter, Herb Jones made two big defensive plays in a row and on the opposite end of the floor, Trey Murphy converted both with consecutive long 3-pointers to give New Orleans its biggest lead at 114-108 with 9:05 to play in the game.
The Pelicans would not trail again.
The Lakers got it back to even three times, the last time at 120-120 with 4:20 to play in the game but the Pelicans were simply better down the stretch.
Ingram scored six of the last 11 points, McCollum hit a big 3-pointer and Murphy finished it with a pair of free throws.
The Pelicans held the Lakers to just 20 points in the final quarter.
New Orleans got big contributions from many sources with six players scoring in double figures.
McCollum finished with 23 points and seven assists, Murphy 21 points and five rebounds, Jose Alvarado had 18 points and Larry Nance Jr. had 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Davis finished with 34 points and 14 rebounds while James had 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
While the Pelicans were just 9 of 30 from 3-point range, they shot 52 percent from the field. The Pelicans enjoyed a 48-44 edge on the boards and won despite being outscored 25-18 at the free throw line. New Orleans had a slight 60-58 edge on points in the paint.
It was an important game on many fronts.
The Lakers had been playing pretty well, having won two straight and six of 10 games with Davis healthy to support James.
New Orleans moved two games ahead of the Lakers in the Western Conference with the win as opposed to the Lakers tying the Pelicans in the standings.
The Pelicans play the second of a back-to-back tomorrow against Sacramento, a rising young team in the West, currently in the third spot at 29-22. It is another very important game for New Orleans.
Now back at .500, the Pelicans do not want to see the downside of that mark again this season. For that to occur, New Orleans will have to do it most likely without Valanciunas Sunday night, who is likely to miss his first game of the year. Willy Hernangomez will likely be called on.
This was a team effort to get the win but make no mistake about it.
When your star player plays like a star, you win most often.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…