The Lakers got a look at what might have been Sunday night, facing DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans for the first time since the blockbuster deal that sent the then-Sacramento King to the Big Easy.
Although Los Angeles put forth a much stronger effort than they did in a lackluster loss to the Celtics Friday, the Lakers suffered their seventh consecutive loss, 105-97, handing Cousins his first win in a Pelicans uniform.
Cousins had 26 points and 15 rebounds, and his frontcourt partner Anthony Davis dropped 31 in the victory. No Laker topped the 20-point mark.
The Lakers will look back at the third quarter when the game got away. The team continued a puzzling trend of coming out of halftime poorly and was outscored 28-14 in the period. Los Angeles also coughed the ball up 25 times, compared to only 13 turnovers for the Pelicans.
Los Angeles made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter and tied the game at 97 after a 14-0 run. Julius Randle had a chance to take the lead on the second of two free throws – which would have been the team’s first lead since 57-56 in the third quarter. Instead, he missed, and Davis sank a jumper on the other end to give New Orleans the lead for good.
The Lakers’ youth acquitted itself decently against New Orleans, led by a resurgent performance from Brandon Ingram. The rookie, who went scoreless in his last outing, had 16 points and six rebounds, including a couple of strong drives to the basket.
D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson chipped in 16 and 14 points, respectively, and recent call-up David Nwaba continued his plus-minus wizardry with a plus-6 in nine minutes of action.
Ivica Zubac missed out on an opportunity to test himself against two of the league’s premier bigs with a quad contusion, so the Lakers were forced to dust off Timofey Mozgov after a string of five straight DNP-CDs. Mozgov showed some spark in his limited opportunity, with 8 points and 5 rebounds on perfect shooting, but figures to return to the bench as the youth movement rolls forward to finish out the season.