With major playoff implications on the line, Tuesday’s final result was never seriously in doubt as the Lakers dominated the New Orleans Pelicans in the Bayou 123-108. The victory not only creates some breathing room in their postseason push, but also gives the Lakers an important tiebreaker between the two teams which may end up being critical in the Western Conference standings.
How dominant exactly were the Lakers over the Pelicans?
They were up at one point by as many as 40, never trailed and scored a season-high 75 points in the first two quarters. Oh, and they also hit a franchise-record 15 threes in the first half.
In one of their most important wins of the season, plenty of players stepped up to give stellar performances. Anthony Davis had 35 points and 17 rebounds, Malik Beasley had 24 points and D’Angelo Russell made a key defensive stop late in the fourth to make sure the Pelicans' fake comeback didn’t turn into a legitimate one.
The Lakers went to Davis early and often and he responded, scoring the team’s first eight points as part of a 14-0 run to start the game. Things only got better from there as Beasley caught fire, hitting three triples. And Russell got in on the fun as well, scoring nine points of his own as the Lakers had a 15-point lead after one.
First quarter: Lakers 39, Pelicans 24— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) March 15, 2023
After scoring just 25 points over the last two games, Anthony Davis dropped 14 in the first. The Lakers are scorching from deep, making nine of their 14 3-point attempts (64.3%). D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley each have 9 points.
The rest of the half was essentially a three-point competition for the Lakers. They made their aforementioned 15 from downtown, with Beasley adding seven alone (only the third Laker in history to do so). It’s rare that an NBA game feels like it's over at halftime, but this was the rare exception. Up by 35 at the half and with the only thing as lifeless as the Pelicans’ players being the New Orleans crowd, this one was done quickly.
Or so we thought.
The lead got as high as 40 and even though New Orleans outscored Los Angeles 35-23 in the third quarter, it wasn’t enough to make this a truly competitive game. But after a slow start to the fourth, Darvin Ham was forced to put Davis back in to ensure this wouldn’t end up as a historical collapse.
This was a statement win when the Lakers needed to make it the most. They did what quality teams do, not only winning a road game that had high stakes on the line, but raising their play to a level not quite seen. The shooting from three might not be replicable on a night-to-night basis, but the attentiveness on the defensive end and Davis’ aggression (at least in the first half) certainly can be.
L.A. is playing their best basketball at exactly the right time, and with another game tomorrow against the lowly Houston Rockets, there’s no reason the Lakers shouldn’t be able to reach .500 for the first time since January 24, 2022.
It’s time to get greedy I mean, why not?
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.