The Lakers have pretty clearly given up on the season and Sunday was the glaring example of that as the Pelicans raced them off their home court, 123-95.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook had 14 combined turnovers — seven apiece — in the first three quarters. While James did contribute 32 points, six rebounds and three assists, Russell Westbrook had 15 points and one assist. Carmelo Anthony tried to bring his Staples Melo best, scoring 13 points but it was never enough.
For a team that needed a strong start out of the gate of the All-Star break, the Lakers have done anything but through the first two games with back-to-back losses and now are teetering closer to falling out of the bottom of the play-in game than conceivably making a run to the sixth seed.
Neither team shot out of the gate with much venom. The Lakers struggled with some head-scratching turnovers early on that allowed New Orleans an early 12-9 lead. The turnovers continued throughout the quarter as the Lakers continued to struggle offensively.
Malik Monk tried to provide a spark defensively with a wild sequence akin to that of Ja Morant’s against the Lakers earlier this season.
Malik Monk with an insane defensive play. pic.twitter.com/ix8MSpIRvI— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) February 28, 2022
Tried was the keyword, though, as they only continued turning the ball over offensively as the Pelicans continued building their lead, A 3-pointer by Talen Horton-Tucker offered some life and allowed the Lakers to trail by just four points after one quarter despite shooting 1/7 from the 3-point line and committing nine turnovers.
The Lakers promptly turned the ball over in the second quarter leading directly to a Pelicans 3-pointer, then extended the lead to nine points after a CJ McCollum jumper, forcing a timeout at 31-22 New Orleans. Carmelo Anthony would finally spark something of a run with a 3-pointer and a dunk as part of a 7-1 spurt to cut the lead to 34-31.
That spark was very short-lived as the Pelicans pieced together a 10-0 run late in the quarter to open up a 51-37 lead. James stopped the run with a banked-in 3-pointer but 16 first-half turnovers allowed New Orleans to lead by double digits at halftime.
Things escalated quickly in the second half as the turnovers problems did subside but the lack of good basketball players for the Lakers problem did not. New Orleans built up a 19-point lead after a McCollum 3-pointer. Jonas Valančiūnas pushed the lead to 22 points as the Crypto.com Arena crowd serenaded the Lakers with boos.
The Lakers continued to offer no resistance. DeAndre Jordan’s five-minute cameo did not solve matters as he had a plus-minus of -10 in that span in the third quarter. Brandon Ingram’s driving layup gave them a 30-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter happened.
The Lakers host the Mavericks on Tuesday in another nationally televised game on TNT. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. PT.