This matchup literally felt like it was over before it had started.
The Los Angeles Lakers raced out to a 14-0 advantage. Loyal fans, who practice the ritual of standing until the home team scores its first points, were forced to stay on their feet through a timeout before the New Orleans Pelicans finally got on the board at the 8:34 mark of the first quarter on a Brandon Ingram jumper.
Believe it or not, things proceeded to go down hill from there. The Lakers’ lead soon grew to 29-11. Although the Pelicans cut the deficit to 10 points not two minutes later, the joy was extremely short-lived as the Lakers finished the first frame with a 39-24 lead.
The second quarter doesn’t deserve individual mention — the difference stood at 75-40 on the scoreboard at halftime. A big reason for the wild discrepancy was the lopsided 3-point shooting.
The Lakers made 9-of-14 from deep in the first quarter. Those totals increased to 15 makes in 27 attempts at intermission ... meanwhile the Pelicans lagged far behind with a 5-for-27 shooting performance from behind the arc.
Those nine first-quarter 3s were the most makes the Lakers have had in any quarter in the last 20 years, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez.
Sitting on 15 makes at halftime, Los Angeles’ franchise-best mark of 22 made 3s sat well in sight. Although they cooled significantly from deep and didn’t set a new record, that didn’t affect the outcome.
Anthony Davis, for instance, out-hustled Jonas Valanciunas and CJ McCollum to grab his own miss for a putback just a few minutes into the third quarter and make it an 82-42 game.
Following that play, Zion Williamson slumped back in his chair and stared straight ahead. Who could blame him? With so much to gain from a single victory, the Pelicans fell flat on their faces from the outset. Not only was the shot-making not up to par, so too was the execution and competitive fire.
It was honestly an embarrassing showing for about the first 2.5 quarters. The Pelicans were repeatedly punched in the mouth and they didn’t fight back hard enough until the game fell out of reach — case in point, there were zero lead changes in what felt like a must win.
While a 40-point deficit morphed into a 100-81 score just a minute into the fourth, and then the margin decreased to 13 points with five minutes left in regulation, the Pelicans never put a genuine scare into the Lakers.
Brandon Ingram, who showed serious rust early, posted a line of 22 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Herb Jones finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a couple of 3s. Trey Murphy also scored 20 points. CJ McCollum converted only 1-of-10 3-pointers en route to 13 points.
Anthony Davis was the best individual player on the floor, finishing with 35 points and 17 rebounds. Malik Beasley totaled 24 points on the strength of 7-of-12 shooting from behind the arc.
The Lakers didn’t play perfect basketball for the full 48 minutes. They shot under 50% from the field. They committed 17 turnovers. However, the Pelicans dug themselves too deep of a hole before deciding to fight back.
Tuesday’s loss didn’t eliminate the Pelicans from the playoffs, but it did feel like another mortal wound to their hopeful season. Once again, they reside outside of the play-in picture, currently sitting in 12th place.
Positive glimpses and games have been few and far between since the calendar flipped to 2023.
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