LeBron James Flirts with Triple-Double as Lakers Cruise Past Zion, Pelicans

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 16, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dunks against New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli, center, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers used a 15-0 third-quarter run to win their fifth straight game and defeat the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 112-95 on Friday at Staples Center.

L.A. trailed 70-67 with 6:40 left in the third quarter after a Brandon Ingram three-pointer, but the Lakers responded with 15 straight to earn a 82-70 edge. Five different Lakers contributed during the run, including LeBron James, who capped the stretch with a putback dunk:

New Orleans cut the Laker lead to four early in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers went on a 12-0 run in response to seal the win.

James was two rebounds shy of a triple-double with 21 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds to lead six Lakers in double figures in scoring. Zion Williamson paced the Pels with 21 points, and Brandon Ingram had 20. 

The 11-3 Lakers maintained their Western Conference lead. New Orleans has lost five straight.

The 4-7 Pels welcomed back Williamson, who missed his team's game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday because of health and safety protocolsNew Orleans still missed point guard Lonzo Ball, who has been out for two games with knee tendonitis.

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Notable Performances

Pelicans PF Zion Williamson: 21 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists

Pelicans PF Brandon Ingram: 20 points, 5 assists, 2 steals

Pelicans SG J.J. Redick: 12 points, 6 rebounds

Lakers G/F LeBron James: 21 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds

Lakers PF Anthony Davis: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks

Lakers PG Dennis Schroder: 12 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals

       

Lakers Crush Pels On Both Ends

Entering Friday, the Lakers were the only NBA team ranked top five in offensive and defensive rating, per Basketball Reference.

The Lakers exhibited their all-around dominance once again Friday, showing excellent ball movement with 31 assists:

L.A. also played tremendous defense in holding the Pels to 37 second-half points.

Seven Lakers scored nine or more points in the balanced offensive attack. On defense, the Lakers forced the Pels into 20 turnovers, while L.A. committed just six.

The Lakers also combined for 17 steals and blocks, while the Pels managed only eight.

Anthony Davis stuffed Williamson at the rim:

Dennis Schroder evaded the Pels defense and got to the hoop for two:

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a three-pointer off an inbounds pass despite a foul:

In the end, the Lakers coasted to another win that further cemented their place on top of the NBA standings.

The season isn't even a month old, but it's hard seeing any team that will top the Lakers, especially if they continue their phenomenal performance on both ends.

                      

Zion, BI Can Only Do So Much

Williamson and Ingram largely excelled Friday, combining for 41 points on 18-of-34 shooting, 15 rebounds, nine assists and a pair of steals and blocks.

The problem was the rest of the Pels largely struggled on a night where the Lakers' entire rotation was firing on all cylinders.

Second-year guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 12 points, but he also had five turnovers and five fouls in just 12 minutes.

Fellow starters Josh Hart and Steven Adams had quiet offensive evenings, combining for 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting.

The bench outside J.J. Redick (12 points) didn't really get it going either. Nicolo Melli went scoreless in 21 minutes, Eric Bledsoe scored just seven points and committed three turnovers in his 21 minutes, and rookie Kira Lewis Jr. went 2-of-8 shooting.

Still, the young Pels have a bright future with Williamson and Ingram leading the way, even if their five-game losing streak has dropped them to second-last in the Western Conference. Ultimately, there's still so much promise with this team thanks to these two, and they showcased their talents in L.A.

Williamson ran down the court and finished a lob from Josh Hart, who did all the hard work to move the ball from end to end:

Ingram started hot with 17 first-half points on 8-of-9 shooting, with his one miss erased thanks to a follow-up bucket:

The second half did not go the Pels' way whatsoever, but sometimes, Williamson is simply unstoppable, showing off his power on this slam dunk:

New Orleans ultimately fell to the defending champions, but there's always reason to be bullish about this team thanks to the Williamson-Ingram combination, which kept New Orleans in this game into the fourth quarter. 

         

What's Next?

The Pels will visit the Sacramento Kings on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET in Smoothie King Center. The Lakers will stay home to face the Golden State Warriors on Monday at 10 p.m. ET as part of the NBA's nine-game Martin Luther King Jr. Day slate.