Lakers held off Pelicans' second-half surge to clinch 7th seed in NBA playoffs

The Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the first round of the NBA Playoffs by defeating the New Orleans Pelicans, 110-106, on Tuesday night.

The Lakers are now the No. 7 seed in the West, and they will face the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets in the first round.

At one point, the Lakers were up 18 points, but Zion Williamson, who finished the game with a season-high 40 points, took a perfect pass from Jose Alvarado to tie the game at 93 apiece within four minutes. play.


LeBron James looks on from the court

LeBron James, #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, watches the game against the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2024 Play-In Tournament on April 16, 2024 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. (Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

Williamson tied it again with 3:13 to play with a floater in the lane, but he was injured during the score – something the home team didn't want to see. He returned to the locker room, throwing his towel on the floor because his injury was clear enough to require further testing.

There was no word the rest of the match on what exactly Williamson was facing.

With Williamson now out, the Lakers and Pelicans went back and forth on the scoreboard, as LeBron James hit two free throws, followed by the Pelicans responding with a Larry Nance Jr. dunk. James is came right back with a two-point basket to regain a four-point lead for the Lakers.


The score was 101-100 with less than a minute to play after Nance missed one of two free throws, and D'Angelo Russell had ice in his veins when Austin Reaves kicked one out for a three wide-open. He buried the shot and turned to say something to the Pelicans bench, as the Lakers now possessed a four-point lead with 51.1 to play.

CJ McCollum hit his mid-range jumper to cut the Lakers' lead to two, and the Lakers tried to kill time with James at the top of the key. When his fadeaway shot didn't reach the rim, Davis fought through traffic in the paint, grabbed the rebound and was fouled on the way up.

Davis made the two free throws, the biggest of the evening, against his former team.

Zion Williamson goes to the hoop

Zion Williamson, No. 1 of the New Orleans Pelicans, faces Taurean Prince, No. 12, and LeBron James, No. 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, during the first half of a game at Smoothie King Center on 16 April 2024 in New Orleans. Orleans. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Needing an answer, it was McCollum again on the other end of the court, making a layup with 11 seconds left. McCollum would immediately foul Reaves, and the Pelicans could only hope he missed the free throws to give them a chance.

However, Reaves knocked them both down, and although Nance made a shot at the other end with three seconds left, Davis made two more free throws. They made 11 straight free throws to end the game, something good teams do to eliminate their opponent.

Despite the loss, the Pelicans still have a chance to become the eighth and final seed in the West. They will face the winner of the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings game later Tuesday night.

Looking at the stat sheet, all five Lakers starters finished with double-digit points, but none better than James, who was 23 on 6 of 20 shooting and a perfect 10 of 10 from the charity stripe. He also had nine rebounds and nine assists, just short of a triple-double.

Russell had a great night from the field, shooting 50% (7 of 14), including 5 of 11 from three-point territory for 21 points. Davis had 20 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double, while Reaves finished with 16 points and Rui Hachimura had 13.

D'Angelo Russell reacts while playing on the court

D'Angelo Russell, #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers, celebrates during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on April 16, 2024 in New Orleans. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)


For the Pelicans, Alvarado played a key role as a point guard, tallying 10 points and seven assists. McCollum, despite his big shots late, was just 4 of 15 from the floor for nine points, going 1 of 9 from beyond the arc.

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