LOS ANGELES — Just when things were appearing to get better for the Los Angeles Lakers, they fell flat in a 132-125 defeat on Tuesday to the struggling New Orleans Pelicans lead by 28 points a piece from Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon.
After trailing by as much as 19 points through the first two quarters of play, the Lakers came out in the second half as a different team as they cut the deficit to 10 points in the third quarter in large part due to 23 combined points from Pau Gasol and Kent Bazemore.
Their run continued into the fourth quarter as they closed the gap to as little as four points at 128-124 with just under two minutes left in the game after a made 3-pointer by Jodie Meeks. But it proved to be too large of a margin for Los Angeles to overcome as Brian Roberts lead the charge with 10 of his 19 points for the game in the final quarter.
It was certainly a change of pace for New Orleans, who entered the contest on an eight-game losing streak, as they had a well-rounded offensive game with three players who finished with 20-plus points and shot 54 percent from the field as a team on the night.
“We just had an emotional hangover (from Monday’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers) where we had a great play at the end of the game,” D’Antoni said. “You come here. You think you’re ready and you’re not. It took us at least two quarters to even get into anybody. I mean the first 10 minutes looked like a layup drill for the other team.
“It has to be learning experience and they need to understand that anyone in the league can do it one or two times. You have to bring the intensity and concentration every night.”
It was a slow start for Los Angeles after taking a 4-2 lead, New Orleans responded by going on a 7-0 that snowballed into as much as a 14-point lead in the first quarter that was lead by 17 points from Davis. It would finish as a 35-point first quarter for the Pelicans, which tied their season-high for the opening quarter on 50 percent shooting that also included 20 points in the paint.
Despite the Lakers’ struggles shooting in the opening quarter, Pau Gasol scored 15 points in the first quarter including the team’s first 13-points of the game.
Los Angeles’ defensive woes continued into the second quarter as they allowed New Orleans to once again shoot over 50 percent and fell behind by as much as 19 points and got as close as nine points the quarter. Austin Rivers and Tyreke Evans combined for 19 points in the second quarter and at halftime the Pelicans held a 67-51 lead with four players in double-figures.
It was a game that lacked any consistent defense from Los Angeles from the get-go, which was something that Gasol expressed after the loss snapped their two-game winning streak.
“It was a great win last night and we wanted to get another one tonight, but we were too flat defensively especially in the first half,” Gasol said after his 29-point and 12-rebound performance. “We stepped it up in the second half and we did a much better job. We gave ourselves a chance but we couldn’t quite get there. We just put them on the (free throw) line way too many times in the second half. 40 free throws are way too many. We really couldn’t get close enough.”
Bazemore also echoed similar sentiments after yet another disappointing defensive letdown.
“The exact opposite of last night. We jumped out on Portland and gave ourselves enough room to withstand their biggest punch,” Bazemore said after tying his career-high of 23 points on Tuesday night. “New Orleans did the same thing. The next step we have to take as a team is handling those emotional victories such as last night. It’s just learning pains as a young team, and hopefully we can get the ball back on the right track.”
The Lakers play their next game on Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
Bob Garcia IV
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