Los Angeles, CA— Anthony Davis finished with over 40 points for the second time against his former team, the New Orleans Pelicans (11-24). The Los Angeles Lakers (28-7) now have won four consecutive games, defeating the Pelicans, 123-113.
LeBron James’ Decision Making
Los Angeles did a great job to start the contest as they set the tone early with their pace on the floor. LeBron James was the conductor that led the train, as he had eight of his game-high 15 assists in the first quarter alone.
The way James really tried to look at how New Orleans was playing he and his teammates and exploit the openings. To begin the game and throughout, James would take advantage of mouse in the house situations and allowed Davis to play neighborhood bully inside.
Los Angeles came into this game second in the NBA in points in the paint (53.0). New Orleans’ strategy seemed to be to have Ingram play the power forward position to help on the switch against James. However, if the Pelicans elected to go that route, that meant that the smaller man was on Davis. Making it easy for James to just dump it down inside and let Davis do the rest.
Not only Davis, who finished with 46 points and 13 boards, but the rest of the Lakers squad, who finished with 54 points in the paint.
With this, the game was now easier for the Lakers in terms of now being able to play inside-out. As the defense would collapse on James or try to cover Davis by stacking things up inside, Los Angeles was able to get a multitude of three-point shots. Finishing with 14 threes as a team, shooting 48 percent from downtown.
When the Lakers are able to play like this, things get a lot more vocal and intense on the defensive end that helps create transition opportunities. Los Angeles tallied 24 fast break points. However, it started with James and his ability to read the defense and making things easy on Los Angeles.
Anthony Davis’ Dominance
Davis is a guy who has to be looked at as a top-3 candidate with the numbers he’s put up this season. In addition, his third quarter was absolutely incredible.
Of his 46 points, 19 of them came in that third quarter. It seemed like he just was putting all together for the Lakers and giving combos to New Orleans that they had no answer to. He didn’t seem like he tried to force to much either. He really just settled down and let the game come to him. In addition, he made the right decisions in situations.
If he had the smaller man inside, back them down. Open for the 15-foot jumper, take it and make it. He was very efficient, going 15-for-21 from the field and he went to the line more times than the Pelicans did the entire game (13-for-13).
He’s always been a very imposing body in all aspects of the game. However, in this game against his former team, he really was able to take his time and make the right moves when needed to in order to put himself and his team in the best position to win.
Los Angeles is a long and lengthy team. Everyone can switch and opposing players think twice before stepping into the trees and going up against the big men for the Lakers. Los Angeles came into the game second in steals (8.6), they had nine steals in the game.
Many of those steals came from them forcing bad passes out of New Orleans or guys like Davis playing the passing lane, getting the steal, which in turn got the Lakers out in transition.
They also did a tremendous job of playing with their hands up. Only allowing the Pelicans to get to the line seven times in the contest. In addition, held New Orleans, who is a top-5 team in three-point shooting, to only 29 percent shooting from beyond-the-arc.
Now several things Los Angeles has to steal note. They play in spurts and still ply leads. If you heard Mark Jackson tonight, he’s correct in his assessment of they’re only creating bad habits. They allowed 68 points in the paint to this New Orleans team as well as 27 fast break points.
You can get away with this against the Pelicans. However, Los Angeles has to keep in mind that when they play more elite teams, they have to have that switch on all game. Not just when they’re up by as many as 24 or when they jump out early in the first. But for the full 48 minutes.
The Lakers will stay in Los Angeles as they’ll welcome the Detroit Pistons into town on Jan. 5.
The New Orleans Pelicans will also stay in California, but will make the travel up to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Jan. 4.