It’s hard to keep a champion down. After successive losses, LeBron and the Lakers fire up against the Pelicans. Here’s the full report…
LeBron’s Unreal Triple Ices Win Over Pelicans
Clock running out, defender all over him, fading away on one leg: ideal conditions for LeBron James.
The Lakers were nursing a three-point lead with only 31 seconds left when James stepped back for a ridiculous corner 3-pointer to put the game on ice for a 125-119 win over New Orleans.
“I think he had his hands in the air before it went in,” coach Luke Walton said. “That’s what great players do. That’s an impossible shot and we needed it at that moment. We had kind of stalled out offensively. A big-time shot by one of the all-time greats.”
Having lost four of their previous five games, the Lakers (30-31) needed to get back in the win column to avoid falling further in the Western Conference playoff race.
Unsurprisingly, James was the one leading the way with 33 points and 10 assists. He constantly powered through the Pelicans’ interior defense while also stepping out for four 3-pointers, including his insane trey in the final minute.
But it took more than one player to overcome a spirited effort from New Orleans (27-36), which was led by former Laker Julius Randle (35 points) and L.A. native Jrue Holiday (19 points, 10 assists).
The Lakers trotted out a small-ball starting lineup, replacing 7-footer JaVale McGee with 6-foot-1 Rajon Rondo.
“We needed to win,” Walton said. “Rondo’s won championships. He’s an NBA champion. Let’s get him on the court and see what happens.”
The point guard was instrumental in his team’s attack, handing out a season-high 16 assists while also pitching in 11 points.
A couple of those dimes came during the most explosive part of the night. The Lakers trailed by five midway through the third quarter when Kyle Kuzma (22 points) suddenly erupted.
The 23-year-old threw down three monstrous dunks in a two-minute stretch, while LeBron provided one of his own, sending the crowd into hysterics.
“Those were huge momentum plays for our ball club,” James said, “which the fans loved and we loved it for them.”
The Lakers rode that momentum the rest of the way, though they still needed some clutch moments to pull out the victory. New Orleans cut their lead to just one with 1:38 left, when they turned to their hot hand.
Brandon Ingram — who continued his impressive four-game streak with 23 points — attacked his man off the dribble, getting to the rim and scoring despite a tough finish.
Then LeBron asserted himself on the defensive end, switching onto Holiday and stripping the point guard of the ball. When the Pelicans forced him into a tough shot on the ensuing possession, he turned dire circumstances into an unreal bucket.
“LeBron did what LeBron does,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “He makes an almost impossible shot in the corner and that put a lot of pressure on us. That really was the one that decided the game.”
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