When facing a team with a talented big man, the Lakers have often struggled to stop him.
On Sunday, they faced a team with two.
On the strength of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Lakers, 105-97, at Staples Center.
Cousins had 26 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter, and Davis scored 31 points and made 11 of 17 free throws.
The Lakers (19-44) have lost seven consecutive games.
“We’re working them like it’s early in the season right now because we know how important this time is and this opportunity is building the right momentum into the off-season,” Coach Luke Walton said. “It would be really nice. It would be nice to have the feeling of winning after some of these games, just to reinforce what we’re working there. We’re gonna continue to push it every day til the season’s over. It would be nice to have a little bit of a reward.”
The Lakers rallied in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t complete their comeback.
Down 14 points with 5 minutes 38 seconds to play, the Lakers went on a 14-0 run. A stifling defensive possession by Developmental League call-up David Nwaba led to Nick Young scoring on a fastbreak layup with 4:23 left.
“That’s what we were looking for the whole game,” Nwaba said. “It just happened to come in the fourth quarter. We fed off that, we fed off the crowd. We got things moving.”
Point guard D’Angelo Russell followed with his first two successful three-point baskets of the game to bring the Lakers within one point. Russell made two of 11 three-pointers in the game.
“I missed a lot of wide-open ones,” said Russell, who also said those misses didn’t cause hesitation later. “I could see if I was forcing it or whatever, but I feel like I missed a lot of wide-open ones that they capitalized on.”
Julius Randle tied the score, 97-97, with a free throw, but that would be as close as the Lakers could get.
From there, New Orleans scored six consecutive points to seal the win. Russell and Brandon Ingram committed turnovers in the final minute.
The Lakers’ successes and failures came in spurts. The first and fourth quarters were encouraging for the Lakers.
Ingram made the first shot he took and finished seven for 13 for 16 points.
Ingram wasn’t alone in his strong start. Shooting guard Young made five of eight first-half shots and scored 14 of his 19 points then. Center Timofey Mozgov, who has played in only one other game since being removed from the starting lineup Feb. 6, made all three of his first-half shots.
The Lakers outscored the Pelicans by 10 points in the second quarter, but during that same segment, Davis accrued 10 points on his own. He did it again in the third.
That’s when the Pelicans really built their lead. The Lakers stopped moving the ball and went cold and made only five of 22 shots. Only three Lakers scored during that period — Ingram with seven points, Tarik Black with three and Jordan Clarkson with four.
Although the Lakers entered halftime with a four-point lead, they started the fourth quarter down 10 points.
“The execution wasn’t great in the last couple minutes,” Walton said. “It was good experience for them, but the way we played in the third and the start of the fourth is where we’re going to be focusing our efforts going into practice tomorrow.”
Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles TimesBasketball Brandon Ingram Anthony Davis Timofey Mozgov