Lakers slip past Pelicans to end 4-game slide; Bryant limps out
LOS ANGELES — Anthony Davis didn’t suit up for New Orleans, and Kobe Bryant couldn’t make it through the first half.
With the game’s two biggest stars sidelined by injuries, the Los Angeles Lakers’ young lineup capitalized for a promising win.
Lou Williams scored nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers rallied late to snap their four-game losing streak with a 95-91 victory over the Pelicans on Tuesday night.
After Julius Randle hit a go-ahead finger roll with 43 seconds left, Williams added a clutch running jumper with 18 seconds to play. Los Angeles hung on to win the meeting of the Western Conference’s worst teams, surviving a back-and-forth fourth quarter for just its ninth win of the season.
“Young guys are starting to get a little resilient,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “They’re starting to learn. We’ve been saying that for the past couple of weeks. They’re starting to grow.”
Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points for the Lakers, while D’Angelo Russell added 13 points after missing one game with a sprained ankle. The rookie put the Lakers ahead for the first time with a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter.
Scott finished the game with Williams and four youngsters on court – although the group didn’t include Russell, who acknowledged frustration. The Pelicans scored the next 10 points after Russell’s go-ahead shot, but the Lakers eventually reclaimed the lead on Williams’ jumper with 1:16 to play.
“We got stops down the stretch, picked up the pace and became a little more assertive,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to be proud of the way we’re growing. I feel like we’re going in the right direction. I think we’re going to turn the corner.”
Tyreke Evans scored 21 points for the Pelicans, who lost their fourth straight and hit arguably the lowest point of their wildly disappointing season.
“You just have to decide if you are going to play hard every night and if we want to have a good team,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “That’s the bottom line. It doesn’t involve soul-searching. It involves looking in the mirror and being able to say, ‘I gave the best effort that I could tonight.’ That’s not what we are getting.”
Bryant scored seven points in 16 minutes before leaving for good shortly before halftime due to a sore Achilles tendon. He missed the Lakers’ last game with the same injury, and the 20-year veteran sat on the bench during the first half with a large ice wrap on his balky right shoulder, which kept him out for three games earlier this month.
Bryant’s last three seasons ended early because of injuries, and the 37-year-old superstar is missing even more time lately. He went 3 for 9 against the Pelicans, missing all five of his 3-point attempts, before the Lakers decided to give him an early night.
“I don’t know the extent of it, but obviously it must be bothering him pretty badly,” Scott said.
Davis missed his second straight game with a bruised back after diving into the stands for a loose ball, and New Orleans dropped to 0-5 without him in uniform. He considered playing against the Lakers, but the Pelicans elected to be cautious with their franchise big man.
Jrue Holiday thought the Pelicans shouldn’t have so much trouble winning without Davis.
“We’ve done it before,” said Holiday, who scored 14 points. “We did last year, and it was pretty much the same team. We’ve just got to figure it out. We miss his scoring, rebounding and passing. He does a lot of everything.”
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