LeBron James, Lakers pull past Pelicans, gain ground in playoff chase

first_img“We coulda gained some more ground with the past two games, but we’ll take it,” Kuzma said. “One more win at a time and every win is valuable to us.”The Pelicans removed at least one obstacle from the Lakers’ path: Anthony Davis, the All-Star big man who is the target of past and future Lakers trade talks, did not play in the fourth quarter as the franchise continued to artificially limit his minutes following his trade request last month.It could have made the difference in the game, as the 6-foot-10 Davis had 22 points and eight rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting in just 21 minutes. The Lakers also scored 74 points in the paint in the open runway without one of the NBA’s best shot-blockers on the floor.The Lakers kick-started in the third quarter, as Kuzma and James combined for four consecutive dunks to give L.A. the lead after the Pelicans got off to a 17-6 run to start the second half.“I’ve always heard like two points is two points, but I don’t believe in that,” James said. “There’s certain plays that’s more than two points from a momentum standpoint. And those four dunks was more than eight points. It just shifted the momentum of the game, shifted our intensity, so that sequence was pretty good.”The Lakers started a small lineup, plugging Rajon Rondo back in with the starters for JaVale McGee. It left the interior open for bullying by Julius Randle (35 points) and Davis, as the Pelicans finished with 68 points in the paint. Both teams struggled to shoot from 3-point range: The Lakers were just 8 for 25 from the arc, while the Pelicans shot an abysmal 20 percent (7 for 35).But Rondo recaptured his role as a floor general on offense, notching double-digit assists (a season-high 16) for the first time since earlier this month against Boston. His shot remained rusty as he started out 2 for 11 from the floor, but he scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.Walton said he made the call to reinsert Rondo as a starter after “a long conversation” with him following the disappointments in New Orleans and Memphis. Walton said he hoped by installing Rondo into the lineup, the team would turn around with some shine from his championship pedigree.Rondo put it in less dramatic terms, saying he doesn’t mind whether he comes off the bench or starts.“Each game varies: A couple games I didn’t have that rhythm on both ends of the floor, but that’s why we have 82 games,” he said. “You get the opportunity to play again and redeem yourself, so statistically I don’t know what I am in terms of coming off the bench versus starting, but tonight, the biggest thing was we got the W.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error 🎥 Luke praises the team’s defense, fight and passion in win over Pelicans. #LakersWin pic.twitter.com/nhqqVgf4pO— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 28, 2019 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThere was no question on this night at Staples Center, as James led with 33 points, including a display of dunks, off-balance jumpers and a competent effort in the one area where he’s been most criticized: defense. He also got help, as Brandon Ingram scored 23 points and Kyle Kuzma had 22, with all the Lakers’ starters scoring in double figures.It was close at the finish, and this time the Lakers delivered, thanks in large part to James’ big shot. On the same night his close friend Dwyane Wade hit a game-winner at the buzzer for the Miami Heat, James playfully rated his as the more challenging attempt.“It was weird: I don’t even know if it was even a shot, it was like, you know how you play pop-a-shot?,” James said, laughing at Wade’s toss. “And he had to because he had no time. But, yeah, I think my shot was more difficult.”After four days of relentless speculation about whether the Lakers might miss the postseason, Wednesday night’s events offered at least a temporary salve.Elsewhere in the NBA, dominoes fell the Lakers’ way: Minnesota, Sacramento and the Clippers all lost, slightly diminishing the nearest competition for a playoff spot and giving the Lakers’ sole possession of 10th place in the Western Conference. PreviousLos Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, hugs New Orleans Pelicans’ Julius Randle at the end of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)The Lakers’ LeBron James, left, celebrates with Brandon Ingram after making a 3-pointer late in Wednesday’s victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. James had 33 points and Ingram had 23 in a 125-119 victory. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers blocks a shot attempt by Elfrid Payton #4 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes for a layup against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Elfrid Payton #4 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives against Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives against Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, left, shoots over Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks for a pass against LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans goes for a layup against Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Julius Randle #30 of the New Orleans Pelicans is fouled on a layup attempt by JaVale McGee #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, right, collides with Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (23) scores against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Julius Randle #30 of the New Orleans Pelicans goes for a layup against JaVale McGee #7 and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: E’Twaun Moore #55 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots the ball against Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 and Tyson Chandler #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma (0) blocks a shot from New Orleans Pelicans’ Elfrid Payton (4) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans goes for a layup against Mike Muscala #31 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes for a layup against Julius Randle #30 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)New Orleans Pelicans’ Julius Randle, left, shoots over Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)The Lakers’ LeBron James dunks past the Pelicans’ Kenrich Williams during the first half of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. James finished with 33 points and 10 assists in a 125-119 victory. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (23) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans’ Julius Randle during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, top, drives to the basket over Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers competes for the ball against Darius Miller #21 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers’ Reggie Bullock (35) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday, bottom left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against Darius Miller #21 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)New Orleans Pelicans’ Julius Randle shoots over Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against Jrue Holiday #11 and Cheick Diallo #13 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers competes for the ball against Frank Jackson #15 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Lance Stephenson #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against Darius Miller #21 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram (14) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Alvin Gentry of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs attend a game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Julius Randle #30 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives against Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Julius Randle #30 of the New Orleans Pelicans competes for the ball against LeBron James #23 and Lance Stephenson #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo (9) drives past New Orleans Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (23) dunks against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)New Orleans Pelicans’ Julius Randle reacts after scoring against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo, left, and New Orleans Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday reach for the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma (0) dunks past New Orleans Pelicans’ Julius Randle during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (23) gestures after making a 3-point basket late in the fourth quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after making a three-pointer against Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans in the second half at Staples Center on February 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, hugs New Orleans Pelicans’ Julius Randle at the end of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)The Lakers’ LeBron James, left, celebrates with Brandon Ingram after making a 3-pointer late in Wednesday’s victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. James had 33 points and Ingram had 23 in a 125-119 victory. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)NextShow Caption1 of 46The Lakers’ LeBron James, left, celebrates with Brandon Ingram after making a 3-pointer late in Wednesday’s victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. James had 33 points and Ingram had 23 in a 125-119 victory. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)ExpandLOS ANGELES — They’re alive.After a pair of dispiriting losses on the road that sunk them two games under .500, the Lakers showed the kind of fight that fans have been wanting more of for the past month.It showed Wednesday night in a one-legged jumper from the corner by LeBron James over Jrue Holiday to beat the shot clock in the final minute of a 125-119 win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans – the same team that routed the Lakers (30-31) over the weekend and caused them to question their dedication to making the playoffs.“That was an impossible shot, and we needed it at that moment,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of James’ late basket. “A big-time shot by one of the all-time greats.”last_img read more