It was Davis' fifth 40-point game this season and second straight against the team he played seven seasons for after he was the top overall pick in 2012. “I felt like we force-fed him much less in this game. I thought he got most of it in flow. Diverse attack, free throws, the 3-point line, transition, rolls to the basket, post," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He just scored in every way that you can, so it was definitely a different feel than last game.”
Davis said this felt more like a normal game compared to this season's first meeting, when he scored 41 points in a Nov. 27 win at New Orleans. “The first game in New Orleans was definitely a lot more emotional, not only going against my former team but playing in that arena again," said Davis, who is tied for fifth in the league in scoring at 27.8 points per game. “Tonight, I think my teammates just gave me great opportunities and put me in great positions to score the basketball. I don’t think I did anything, especially I didn’t prepare any differently. Just came out and played basketball.”
Danny Green added 25 points and LeBron James had 17 points and 15 assists for the Lakers, who have won four straight following a season-high, four-game losing streak. “”I don’t think he had one play where it looked stressed," James said of Davis. “He was efficient from the outset, hitting his jumpers in the low post. Made all, what, 13 of his free throws. Just another great performance.”
The Lakers led by as many as 24 during the third quarter as Davis scored 19 in the period. They were up 105-83 at the end of the third quarter but the Pelicans rallied in the fourth quarter to get within 116-109 with 2:25 remaining on Brandon Ingram's dunk. A 3-pointer by Green and Davis' jumper following a turnover ended any hopes of New Orleans drawing closer.
“We're familiar with him. He's a tough matchup," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of Davis. “I thought we did a good job of taking it to the basket. We scored 68 points in the paint and had only seven free throws."
Former Lakers Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram led New Orleans in their return to Staples Center. Ball scored a team-high 23 points and Ingram added 22 as the Pelicans had their four-game winning streak snapped.
It is the first time in Ball's three seasons he has had back-to-back, 20-point games. “My body feels good and my confidence is where it is supposed to be," Ball said. J.J. Redick's 3-pointer drew the Pelicans within 74-67 less than 2 minutes into the second half before Los Angeles went on a 26-9 run to take its largest lead of the game. Davis had 17 points during the spurt, including three 3-pointers.
Green had 17 points in the first quarter, including five 3-pointers as the Lakers led by 18 late in the quarter. Los Angeles was up 64-51 when New Orleans ran off nine straight points to get within 64-60 with 1:50 remaining in the first half. The Lakers would outscore the Pelicans 10-2 down the stretch, including seven by Davis, to lead 74-62 at halftime.
“They're a really good team. Anthony is a matchup problem for a lot of teams," Ingram said. TIP-INS Pelicans: Ingram, Ball and Josh Hart were welcomed back with a video during the first timeout. ... E'Twaun Moore scored 16 poionts and Derrick Favors added 15 points and 14 rebounds. ... Zion Williamson did some work before the game, taking part in some 3-on-3 drills.
Lakers: Los Angeles is 18-0 when facing teams with a losing record. ... It is the fourth time this season Los Angeles has had a winning streak of four games or more. ... James had eight assists in the first quarter. The last Lakers player to have eight or more in the first 12 minutes was Kobe Bryant, who had eight against Cleveland on Jan. 15, 2015.
UP NEXT Pelicans: Travel to Sacramento on Saturday. New Orleans is 4-2 in the second game of back-to-back sets. Lakers: Host Detroit on Sunday. The teams split their two games last season.
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