Posted on March 23, 2018, by Travis Pulver
For fair weather NBA fans, it may be hard to believe it, but the Los Angeles Lakers are not a bad team. Yes, they are not going to make the playoffs. Yes, they are going to finish the year with a sub-.500 record once again. No, they are not a good team—but they aren’t a bad one either.
That much was evident in Thursday night’s 128-125 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Offense was the name of the game and defense barely an afterthought in the first quarter as the Lakers got out to an early lead, 44-40. The scoring pace calmed down a little during the second quarter, but when it ended, the Lakers were still up 73-71.
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The high scoring half was highlighted by 19 lead changes and saw the to teams tied on 15 occasions.
A strong third quarter made it look like the Lakers could pull out a big win. After outscoring the Pelicans 35-26 in the quarter, they had an 11-point lead heading into the fourth. As long as they could continue to hit shots like they had been all night, the Lakers would be in good shape.
But they didn’t.
With 3:31 to play, the Lakers were still holding on to a four-point lead, 125-121. They could still win if they just made a few more shots in the final minutes of the game—but they didn’t make one. The Lakers offense went ice-cold.
Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo hit a three-pointer and a layup to give New Orleans the lead. Anthony Davis closed out the scoring with a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the game.
Anthony Davis led the way for the Pelicans with 33 points and nine rebounds followed by Jrue Holliday with 26. Rajon Rondo chipped in 24 points, 12 of which came in the final quarter. No looked winded even though they were playing their fifth game in six nights.
Four of the Lakers starters scored at least 22 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the way with 28-points after making eight of 11 three-pointers. Brook Lopez and Julius Randle each chipped in 23 points (Randle also had 10 rebounds). Kyle Kuzma added another 22-points.
But Lonzo Ball’s slump continued. The rookie managed to make only one of 12 three-point attempts on the night—including three of the Lakers final four shots. He finished with just six points but did chip in 13 rebounds and nine assists. It was so bad that the Pelican didn’t bother to guard him anymore.
It’s his seventh consecutive game making just one three-pointer.
“The shots I’m getting, I like them, been hitting them my whole life,” Ball said after the game (NBA). “I’m a little frustrated they’re not going in though.”
The Lakers can certainly score some points. But if Luke Walton wants to start winning more than he loses, he may want to implore his team to play defense. During their recent four-game losing streak, they’ve given up 110 points three times. They allowed the Pelicans, a team that averages 51.6 points in the paint, to score 80 in the paint.
The loss is the fourth in a row for the Lakers. They will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard when they face the Memphis Grizzlies (who lost by 61-points to the Charlotte Hornets Thursday night) Saturday night.
The Pelicans will try to make it five in a row when they travel to Houston Saturday night to face the Rockets.