Yet even without their star big man, New Orleans didn’t have any problem handling LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pelicans cruised to a 128-115 win at the Smoothie King Center on Saturday night, marking their first since the All-Star break.
“I just thought we played hard and we competed,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told Fox Sports New Orleans. “We did a good job I thought with the pace of the game, probably the best we’ve done this year as far as starting with good pace and keeping the pace going.”
The Pelicans put up 42 points in the opening quarter, and forced 23 turnovers in the win, too. While Los Angeles mounted a brief six point lead early, that was it. New Orleans took off and led through the rest of the game, at one point grabbing a 20-point lead en route to the 13-point win.
To make things even better, New Orleans hilariously trolled Lakers team president Magic Johnson on Twitter after the win, too.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 24, 2019
Johnson, remember, spoke out publicly after they failed to make a deal with New Orleans for Anthony Davis before the trade deadline earlier this month, saying he didn’t feel the Pelicans acted in “good faith.”
It’s probably safe to say that — at least for now — the Pelicans grabbed the last laugh.
“We kind of just fell into that trap,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, via Spectrum SportsNet. That team, they play fast … We’ve suffered from games like that in the past where we let teams get into a rhythm early and then it’s tough to get stops as the game goes on. They scored 42 points in the first quarter, and didn’t really feel us defensively at all.”
Jrue Holiday led New Orleans with 27 points in the win, shooting 10-of-18 from the field. Julius Randle added 24 points, and Cheick Diallo added 18 points and 10 rebounds in just 18 minutes off the bench.
“Really I thought it was one of those total team wins,” Gentry said. “Obviously Jrue was great, and Julius was really good … I think you can take all the guys that were involved in the game and at some stage they did something that was really positive for us.”
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