USA About: Lakers Publish: 02/28/2022 Edit: 02/28/2022 Author: Gardener
Lakers center Dwight Howard (left) and New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas battle for a rebound in the first half of the Lakers' 123-95 loss Sunday at Crypto.com Arena. The Lakers woke up Saturday morning, looked at the teams behind them in the Western Conference rankings and got a glimpse of a New Orleans Pelicans team that was eyeing Los Angeles as a potential NBA Play-In tournament opponent. On Sunday, the Lakers faced the Pelicans and saw for themselves how difficult New Orleans can be. Fans in the Crypto.com Arena saw it, too, as they rained down boos on the lifeless Lakers in the third quarter, letting them know that their huge deficit that led to a 123-95 win over the Pelicans was unacceptable. As the final buzzer sounded, the fans booed even more as the Lakers left the court. "I think every game we get too involved with ourselves and we just don't play as hard as we can," said Russell Westbrook. “Teams come in and play harder. And I think that's kind of a scouting report, just play harder than them and see what happens and it works. As the ninth seed in the West, the Lakers now have just a 2½ game lead over the tenth seed Pelicans. The Lakers have 22 regular-season games left, two of them against the same New Orleans team that just overran Los Angeles. The Lakers lost their first two games after the All-Star break, showed no sense of urgency against the Pelicans, and fell six games under .500 (27-33). LeBron James led the Lakers by 32 points in 13-to-23 shooting, but his efforts were meaningless in a game where the Lakers trailed by as much as 32 points. James also had seven turnovers. Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (center) shoots in front of New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (left) and forward Herbert Jones in the first half. "I've had some terrible turnovers," said James. Westbrook had 16 points, but he was only five for 15 from the field and also had seven turnovers and only one assist. The Lakers shot just 20.6% (seven for 34) from three-point range. The boos began when James threw a cross-court pass five minutes from time in the third quarter that landed under the hands of Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker and out of bounds. When the Lakers called a timeout with 5:39 left, now at 75-53, the boos came again. When the Lakers went down 95-65 at the end of the third quarter, they were booed again by the fans. By the end of the game, the Lakers had 23 turnovers. "It's really easy to give up, throw in the towel and say negative things," said Dwight Howard. I know it's been a very tough season.” Their defense was torn apart, allowing the Pelicans to shoot 64% in the third. Their offense was terrible, the Lakers making just 33.3% of their shots in the third and missing all nine of their three-point attempts. The Lakers couldn't slow down the New Orleans trio of Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas and CJ McCollum. Before Ingram had 19 points, eight assists and five rebounds, Valanciunas another double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds and McCollum had 22 points, eight assists and five rebounds, Lakers coach Frank Vogel spoke enthusiastically about it. "I don't want to name names, but CJ and BI and Jonas, all three are horses," Vogel said. And I think it suits them very well. And the move to CJ playing point guard is something that's bearing fruit so far."
Keywords: Lakers, Pelicans, New Orleans, seven, three, James, third, five, eight, two, 22, 19, CJ, Russell Westbrook, the third quarter, Los Angeles, Sunday, the first half, Jonas Valanciunas, Dwight Howard, first, 123-95, 32, 64%, 95-65, 75-53, 13-to-23, 27-33, six, tenth, 2½, ninth, morning, 34