Life without Anthony Davis hasn’t been kind to the LA Lakers, and it certainly didn’t get any better as they faced his old team in a must-win game that had huge implications on playoff seeding. The Lakers, who were in the ninth spot with a 31-43 record, have now fallen to tenth place as the Pelicans (32-43) have overtaken them. The loss puts the Lakers’ record to 3-7 over their last ten games, and they’re now within striking distance of the San Antonio Spurs, who are only a game behind them with a 30-44 record. To make things worse, the Pelicans won the season series today, because even though they still have a game left against LA, they’ve already won two out of three total meetings.
The Lakers crumbled in the second half against the Pelicans, after starting off promisingly. They even had a 23-point lead at one point, largely behind LeBron James and his 39 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and a block. However, his shooting line of 14-27 may look good at first, but he was 2 of 8 from the field in the fourth quarter. He looked like he ran out of gas, and didn’t get that much help. Malik Monk contributed 23 points off the bench, while Russell Westbrook had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists. No one else scored more than eight points.
Speaking of bench players, Trey Murphy had his best game in a Pelicans uniform when it mattered most. He scored all of his 21 points in the second half, outdoing the Lakers’ bench in that span.
It wasn’t just the Lakers collapsing, though. The Pelicans did a great job of adjusting in the second half, and kept up great defensive pressure in the fourth quarter. They didn’t wilt under pressure and kept chipping at the lead until they found themselves in a position to win. Five New Orleans players scored 16 points or more, and were led by Brandon Ingram’s 27 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
One silver lining for the Lakers is Anthony Davis’ impending return, with an early April comeback being speculated. The problem is, he may still need to get back into game shape, and the Lakers have a murderous schedule to close out the season.
LA will face the following teams in their final eight games of the season:
- Dallas Mavericks
- Utah Jazz
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Denver Nuggets (twice)
- Phoenix Suns
- Golden State Warriors
- Oklahoma City
That is not an easy schedule, even if Davis comes back at full strength right away. There’s also the added wrinkle of the Lakers and Spurs facing the Warriors in back-to-back games, so we don’t know if Steve Kerr will sit his starters against LA or against San Antonio. The Spurs also have a slightly easier remaining schedule overall.
With all to play for, it’s going to be a tense time for Lakers fans until the final game of the season. It’s now a dangerous time for the Lakers, especially with the way their roster is constructed. This previous tweet from LeBron James hasn’t aged well, because the doubters are currently being proven correct.