‘New Look’ Lakers Look Promising In Convincing Win Over Pelicans
Fresh off an extremely busy trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers routed the New Orleans Pelicans 120-102 in the team’s last game before the All-Star break. For those who have been expecting a dynasty form in Los Angeles, it’s a promising sign that the recent rebuild could lead to immediate success.
The first D-Lo, AD and Bron break leads to an easy bucket for the Lakers 😅
📺: Pelicans-Lakers on ESPN pic.twitter.com/XAXe6HNYUl
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 16, 2023
“There was a huge emphasis on getting this win,” Anthony Davis said after the game. “Guys came out and played with a lot of energy and urgency… It was only our first game together, but it looked good.”
In addition to 28-point nights for Davis, a pillar of the Lakers franchise for several seasons, the team also benefitted from a strong 21-point performance courtesy of newly acquired point guard D’Angelo Russell. Los Angeles received Russell on Feb. 9 in a three-team trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz.
Improved play from supporting characters meant that the team could afford to rest LeBron James, who scored 21 points in just 29 minutes on the floor. James had endured a severe work rate in recent weeks as he pursued the NBA’s all-time scoring record, but newly acquired players seem capable of picking up the slack for the time being.
Though the reformed team, consisting of five new players, has not had ample time to work together, a week’s worth of hasty preparation seemed to be more than enough to handle New Orleans. The Lakers controlled the pace of the game early and dominated in the second half to pull away to an 18-point win.
Power forward Rui Hachimura, recently acquired from the Wizards in January, said that the team’s practices going into the game were not especially rigorous, and were more focused on helping new teammates become familiar with one another.
“We didn’t even have a practice or anything, we were literally just out there hooping,” Hachimura said.
Of course, the results of a single game are never a sure sign of future success, nor do they negate other miscues this season. With a 27-32 record, the Lakers are currently 13th in the Western Conference standings and will need to close out the season well to have any chance of reaching the playoffs. The future is uncertain as well, as health concerns for aging superstars James and Davis will always be a potential obstacle.
But in one game, Los Angeles proved that its trade deadline activity may have improved a situation that has been stagnant for nearly two seasons. The victory over the Pelicans provides a glimmer of hope.
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