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Lakers hold off Pelicans' 2nd-half surge to earn No. 7 seed in NBA Playoffs

Lakers hold off Pelicans’ 2nd-half surge to earn No. 7 seed in NBA Playoffs

طوبیٰ Tooba 3 months ago 0 18

The Los Angeles Lakers are heading to the first round of the NBA Playoffs as they defeated the New Orleans Pelicans, 110-106, on Tuesday night.

The Lakers are now the No. 7 seed in the West, and they will be pitted against the Denver Nuggets, the reigning NBA champions, in the first round. 

At one point, the Lakers had an 18-point lead, but Zion Williamson, who finished the game with a season-high 40 points, took a perfect alley-oop feed from Jose Alvarado to tie it at 93 apiece with less than four minutes to play. 

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LeBron James looks on court

LeBron James, #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, looks on during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2024 Play-In Tournament on April 16, 2024 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. (Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

Williamson would tie it again with 3:13 to play with a floater in the lane, but he was hurt during the score – something the home team did not want to see. He went back to the locker room, slamming his towel into the floor as his injury was clearly enough to need further testing. 

There was no word throughout the rest of the game on what exactly Williamson was dealing with. 

With Williamson out now, the Lakers and Pelicans went back and forth on the scoreboard, as LeBron James knocked down two free throws, followed by the Pelicans’ answer with a Larry Nance Jr. dunk. James came right back with a fadeaway two-pointer to regain a four-point lead for the Lakers. 

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The score was 101-100 with less than a minute to play following Nance missing one of two free throws, and D’Angelo Russell had ice in his veins when Austin Reaves kicked one out for a wide open three. He buried the shot and turned around to say something to the Pelicans’ bench, as the Lakers now owned a four-point lead with 51.1 left on the clock. 

CJ McCollum would hit his mid-range jumper to cut the Lakers’ lead to two, and the Lakers tried to kill the clock with James at the top of the key. When his fadeaway shot did not reach the rim, Davis fought through traffic in the paint, caught the rebound and got fouled on the way up. 

Davis knocked down both free throws, the biggest of the night, against his old team. 

Zion Williamson drives to hoop

Zion Williamson, #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans, drives against Taurean Prince, #12, and LeBron James, #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, during the first half of a game at the Smoothie King Center on April 16, 2024 in New Orleans. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Needing an answer, it was McCollum again on the other end of the floor, making a driving layup with 11 seconds to play. McCollum would immediately foul Reaves, and the Pelicans could only hope he missed free throws to give them a chance. 

However, Reaves knocked them both down, and even though Nance made a shot at the other end with three seconds left, Davis hit two more free throws. They made 11 consecutive free throws to end the game, which is what good teams do to close out their opponent. 

Despite the loss, the Pelicans still have a chance to become the eighth and final seed in the West. They will take on the winner of the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings game later Tuesday night.

Looking at the stat sheet, all five Lakers starters finished with double-digit points, but none better than James, who had 23 on 6-of-20 shooting and a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe. He also had nine rebounds and nine assists, falling just short of a triple-double. 

Russell had a great night from the field, shooting an even 50% (7-of-14) including 5-of-11 from three-point territory for 21 points. Davis had 20 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double, while Reaves finished with 16 points, and Rui Hachimura had 13 of his own. 

D'Angelo Russell reacts to play on court

D’Angelo Russell, #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers, celebrates during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on April 16, 2024 in New Orleans. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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For the Pelicans, Alvarado played a key role off the bench at point guard, totaling 10 points and seven assists. McCollum, despite hitting big shots late, was just 4-of-15 from the floor for nine points, going 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.

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