Wednesday’s victory was the best basketball the Lakers have played in recent memory. You had the Lakers going back and forth with the upstart Pelicans and coming out victorious, winning the rebounding battle 56-51.
The game was a stalemate at 44-44 when the Lakers went on a 12-0 run to secure a comfortable second-half lead and ultimately win the game. The turning point in the matchup was fueled by Russell Westbrook, who was vintage Russ, penetrating the basket and making the extra pass; he was relentless. That energy and excitement permeated through Crypto.com Arena, and they didn’t stop until the second-quarter buzzer sounded.
Of course, no lead is safe, and the Lakers' 16-point lead was decimated in the third. The quarter has been Los Angeles’ Achilles heel, as the team has lost every third except for their victory against Denver. Despite losing the quarter 35-26, the Lakers entered the third with a four-point lead.
With a lineup of Austin Reaves, Bron, Matt Ryan, Walker, and Wenyen Gabriel, the Lakers kicked off the fourth and kept up with the young New Orleans team. Sky Walker made an appearance during this run and caused the Lakers bench to get a bit too excited and earned them a technical.
Darvin Ham held off bringing in Russ and AD for as long as he could and finally brought them back into the game with 6:37 left up one. The fourth was back and forth until Ryan hit a game-tying buzzer-beater to send the game to overtime at 111-111.
In overtime, the Lakers took control by getting a three from Lonnie Walker, a transition dunk from Anthony Davis, and a LeBron James bucket to close out the Pelicans.
He ended the game with 20 points and 16 rebounds; Anthony Davis was nothing short of phenomenal. He has been battling a lower back injury and was questionable up until game time. The fact he not only played but was dominant has to be acknowledged. and, for now, the “glass” and “street clothes” jokes can be put to rest.
Russ, Bron, and AD get most of the attention, but Los Angeles had a balanced attack against New Orleans. There were five Lakers in double digits, with Troy Brown Jr. and Walker being the unsung heroes scoring a combined 43 in their 67 minutes of play. Yes, it's just one game, and it's very early, but perhaps the LeBron, AD, Troy Brown Jr., Pat Bev, and Lonnie Walker IV lineup is the starting five Ham should go with. The Lakers have struggled to win the starters' minutes, and this lineup might be the one to change that.
The Lakers will face off against the Jazz on Friday night, looking to win their third game in a row.