14 games into the season, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Lakers have an almost hilariously large margin for error. Despite playing their worst first half in at least a week (and probably more), the purple and gold woke up and turned it on when it mattered, beating the New Orleans Pelicans 112-95 on Friday night to extend their current winning streak to five games, move their record to 11-3, and keep Anthony Davis undefeated (5-0) against his former team.
Midway through the second quarter, however, things didn’t look so rosy. The Lakers trailed by 15, looking completely listless against a Pelicans team that was playing like this was a playoff game. Then, LeBron James got tangled up with Steven Adams under the basket and the two exchanged words. The next time down the floor, they both received technical fouls as they continued to jaw. The Lakers responded with an 11-0 run, continuing to force their way inside for free throws to only trail by one at halftime despite their mostly poor play.
Finally awake, the Lakers didn’t cool down over the break. They outscored the Pelicans 27-17 in the third quarter, at one point going on a 15-0 run that saw them hold New Orleans scoreless for nearly 6 minutes of game time. In the fourth quarter, they went on a 19-4 run to extend their lead to a game-high 25 points and allow James and Davis to sub out for good with nearly four minutes left.
This was not Davis’ best game of the year (17 points on 5-16 shooting), but he still found a way to contribute with 3 blocks and 3 steals. James was his typically wonderful self, adding 21 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists. The unsung hero of this one, though, was Alex Caruso, who was a game-high plus-minus of +28, making an impact with his defensive activity, energy and timely shooting. He finished with 9 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Montrezl Harrell (16 points on 8-10 shooting) was also hysterically dominant around the rim to give the Lakers easy buckets as they added to their lead. This team truly has an embarrassment of guys who can step up when necessary.
The Lakers played with their food a little bit, but it’s hard to blame them when they can turn on the afterburners and produce these kinds of swings against bad teams like the Pelicans basically whenever they want to. Now they’ll have two days off to rest before hosting the Warriors on Monday. Have a nice weekend everyone.