In December of the current season, the Lakers hosted the Pelicans and lost in a 104-87 blowout. In a near mirror image of that contest, the Lakers lost in another lopsided beatdown, 113-92, as the Pelicans swept the season series from the Lakers for the first time in franchise history.
After Ryan Kelly soared like a Pelican for a dunk on the first play of the game, it looked to be the Tarik Black show early, with the undrafted and once cut rookie scoring 6 of the Lakers first 12 points in the first 5 minutes of action. But then Jordan Clarkson stole the show, putting viewers on triple double watch early (11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in the first quarter) as his two free throws with 1.1 seconds left gave LA a 30-29 lead after 12 minutes of play.
The Pelicans opened the second quarter on a 14-6 run after Clarkson and Black went to the bench. Even the return of the dynamic duo could not stop the bleeding, and the Lakers trailed 60-49 heading into halftime. Ryan Anderson tore up the Lakers when he made his return to the Pelicans lineup in the second quarter, dunking on a surely flabbergasted Jordan Hill and then knocking down 2 late threes to add to New Orleans' halftime lead.
After both teams shot 60% or better in the first quarter, the Pelicans' defense picked up in the second quarter, with the Lakers dropping down to 50% shooting while the Pelicans hovered at 57.1% for the game. Another big reason for the Pelicans lead was that while both teams attempted 7 first half triples, New Orleans made 6 of theirs compared to LA's 3-7 shooting from distance.
A Norris Cole runner with 1.5 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Pelicans a 90-70 lead heading into the 4th quarter. About the only positive to come out of the third quarter for the Lakers was Tarik Black tying his career high in 14 points on another emphatic dunk in a season full of them for the big man.
The Lakers could not muster the offensive or defensive execution to put much of a dent in the Pelicans lead in the final frame, and went on to lose 113-92. Somewhat symbolically on the day the Lakers cut Steve Nash, Jordan Clarkson made his case to be the Lakers future at point guard, posting a near triple double in his 31 minutes (18 points, 7-9 shooting with 10 assists, 7 rebounds, and just 1 turnover), and would have joined some prestigious company had he not been pulled early in the 4th quarter. The only other Lakers' rookies to get a triple double: Magic Johnson, Jerry West, and Elgin Baylor. Not bad names to be discussed alongside, especially for a second round pick. Speaking of exceeding expectations, Tarik Black (16 points on 10 shots) made his presence known despite the lopsided score. Ryan Kelly (12 points on 9 shots) also had another nice performance as he continues to show his value as a power forward.
None of this was enough to slow down winged Pelicans' destroyer of worlds Anthony Davis, who scored an effortless 20 points to go with his 7 rebounds and 6 assists for what would have been a little triple double watching of his own had the contest's closing minutes been at all competitive. The Lakers next host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, as the Western Conference playoff race continues on, while Los Angeles just races to the lottery. 8 games left people.