Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis’ dominance inside and Malik Beasley’s blazing start from behind the 3-point arc all but put away the Pelicans before halftime in a game that could prove pivotal in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Davis had 35 points and 17 rebounds, Beasley hit seven 3-pointers in just the first half, and the Los Angeles Lakers took a 36-point, second-quarter lead on their way to a 123-108 victory over New Orleans on Tuesday night.
Davis “put it on himself to spearhead what you saw today,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “But everyone was locked in. Everyone was ready to make a contribution.”
Beasley finished with 24 points for the Lakers, who shot 18 of 39 from 3-point range — including 15 of 27 before halftime, which set a franchise record for 3s made in a half.
“I felt confident tonight,” Beasley said. “I told myself keep doing what I’m doing and don’t worry about the pressure of making shots.”
D’Angelo Russell added 17 points to help Los Angeles (34-35) move one game ahead of New Orleans (33-36) in the standings as both clubs try remain in contention for a spot in the postseason. The Lakers also won the season series 3-1, giving them the tiebreaker should these two teams — which entered the day in a four-way tie for 10th in the West — finish with equal records.
“It was very important for us, just for standing purposes, tiebreaker purposes and then getting back in the win column,” said Davis, who was the No. 1 overall draft choice by New Orleans in 2012.
“I just wanted to come out ultra aggressive tonight, knowing how important this game was,” Davis added. “Everybody did. We were playing the right way, playing great defensively and sharing the ball offensively, playing together and we were clicking on all cylinders.”
Brandon Ingram returned to New Orleans’ lineup after missing two games with a right ankle injury, but his 22 points were not nearly enough.
“We let their shot-making just demoralize us,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Our sense of urgency was lacking, but it just came down to they made shots early. We missed a ton of them.
“When we don’t start with a sense of urgency, play fast or play with force, it demoralizes our spirit,” Green added. “We have to, some way or somehow, figure that part out.”
Herbert Jones and Trey Murphy III each scored 20 for the Pelicans, who trailed 75-40 at halftime and trimmed their deficit to 13 when Ingram’s pull-up jumper made it 107-94.
Jones then intercepted Davis’ pass and tried to initiate a fast break that could have gotten New Orleans as close as 11 points with five minutes still to play, but Russell tipped Jones’ pass and Jones was called for a foul when he grabbed Russell to stop him from getting the ball.
That exchange began a 7-2 Lakers mini-run that built the lead back to 18.
The Lakers scored the game’s first 14 points, starting with eight straight by Davis on a layup as he was fouled, a 3 and a step-back jumper. Beasley and Russell each followed with a 3, and Los Angeles’ lead never got below 10 after that.
Austin Reaves scored 14 points and Rui Hachimura added 12 for the Lakers.
Lakers: Davis has 16 30-point games this season. … Shot 48.8% (40 of 82) overall. … Outrebounded New Orleans 52-41. … Went 25 of 28 from the foul line. … Ham said Davis will be rested for the Lakers’ next game at Houston in keeping with doctors’ orders regarding his right foot injury. “It’s tough; the position we’re in, you want to go out and play,” Davis said “But at the end of the day, with an injury like that, you don’t want it to go to the other side. So you want to stay on top of it. I’m going to be there coaching the guys up, trying to make sure we do whatever we can to get the win.”
Pelicans: CJ McCollum scored 13 points and Jonas Valanciunas added 10. … Shot 42.9% (42 of 98), including 11 of 43 from 3-point range.
LOS ANGELES — LeBron James scored 19 points off the bench in his return from a monthlong injury absence, but Zach LaVine scored 32 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 118-108 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
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