If you’re a fan of watching NBA All-Star games from start to finish, then tonight’s matchup was your cup of tea.
The New Orleans Pelicans fell 125-119 to the Los Angeles Lakers and defense was entirely optional throughout much of the game. So many uncontested shots at the rim. Dunks galore — including a stretch in the third quarter where the Lakers slammed home four straight in a span of about 90 seconds.
Both teams combined to score an astounding 142 points in the paint, and had the three-pointers and free throws fallen with better precision, the final score would have wound up in the 130s at a minimum.
“We had opportunities and we couldn’t make the open shots,” said Alvin Gentry to postgame media. “And LeBron did what LeBron does. He makes an almost impossible shot out of the corner and that put a lot of pressure on us. That really was kind of the one that decided the game.”
With 31 seconds left in the game and New Orleans trailing 120-117, LeBron James, who finished with an impressive line of 33 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, nailed this ridiculously difficult three to seal the win for the Lakers.
Prior to this and a lay-in by Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans had closed the gap to just one point on five straight from Darius Miller, who scored all 11 of his points in the final frame. Darius had been 0-6 from the field before catching fire and nearly propelling New Orleans to the surprise victory.
In a game that featured almost no help defense and poor marksmanship from outside of the paint, New Orleans likely should have stolen the game. However, for some unbeknownst reason the cold-shooting Pelicans mistakenly figured the three-point line was their friend in the fourth quarter. Among their first 14 shots in the frame, ten of them came from behind the arc.
They knocked down just two of them.
If you didn’t know any better, #TankFlight had suddenly returned in grand fashion.
Jokes aside, one player who desperately wanted to see the Pelicans walk out of Staples with a win was Julius Randle. New Orleans starting center finished with one of his better games of the season, notching 35 points, six rebounds, three assists.
“I think Julius has had a great year for us,” said Gentry. “The way he played tonight wasn’t a surprise to anyone on our staff or out team because we’ve seen it before.”
Jrue Holiday, who posted a team best +13 +/-, finished with 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, and despite receiving just 21 minutes, Anthony Davis posted his best line (22 points, eight rebounds) since his return from a nine-game absence against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Nearly everyone else struggled to score except for Frank Jackson. The Pelicans 2017 second round pick went off for 15 points, four rebounds and a couple of assists in 29 minutes off the bench.
Up next, the Pelicans travel to Phoenix, where they’ll face the Suns on Friday with an 8 p.m. tip-off.