Even without Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to take care of business at the Smoothie King Center on Sunday, beating the New Orleans Pelicans 122-114 behind a dominant performance from LeBron James.
With Davis sidelined, the Lakers needed someone to step up and have a big game to beat Zion Williamson and the surging Pelicans at home, and James rose to the occasion, as he has throughout his illustrious 16-year career. In 36:22, James tallied 34 points on 66.7% shooting from the field to go along with 10 rebounds, 13 assists and 2 steals. With his 13th triple-double of the season, James is now tied with Luka Doncic for the most triple-doules in the NBA.
Doncic is 21 years old. James is 35.
James didn’t do it all on his own, though, even if the box score might suggest otherwise. The Lakers also got some encouraging minutes from Kyle Kuzma, who scored 20 points in his seventh start of the season. Obviously he’s no Davis — especially on the defensive end — but he did his best given his assignment.
The Lakers end the season series against the Pelicans with a 4-0 sweep. However, while the Pelicans never got the best of the Lakers, every game was electric, and Sunday night’s game was no exception. Between the old guard vs. new guard storyline with James and Williamson, the disdain Pelicans fans have for Anthony Davis and the three players in New Orleans that have something to prove to their old team, it’s hard to imagine a first-round series more fun than the Lakers and Pelicans. There might be a more competitive series, but in terms of fun, no series comes close — at least not a realistic one.
The Lakers will return from their three-game road trip on Tuesday to take on the Philadelphia 76ers, who are expected to be without Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson. After that, the Lakers won’t get a break in their schedule for the rest of the week, as they’ll see the Milwaukee Bucks and the Clippers in the two following games. The Lakers haven’t beaten the Bucks or Clippers this season.