Lakers Lock in Playoff Spot with Win over Pelicans, Ready for Showdown with Nuggets in Playoffs

Despite finishing with a solid 47-35 record, the Los Angeles Lakers snagged the eighth spot in the Western Conference, setting up a Play-In Tournament showdown with the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Lakers showed their dominance over the Pelicans in the regular season, including their recent win in Sunday’s season finale. Despite facing a tough situation, the Lakers managed to pull off a 110-106 victory to secure a spot in the postseason. The Pelicans took an early 4-0 lead, but Austin Reaves’ three-pointer for the Lakers quickly closed the gap, with Brandon Ingram responding with a three-pointer of his own.

Ingram came out strong, sinking two midrange shots early on. But it was LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell who scored back-to-back three-pointers to push the Lakers ahead.
Once James was benched, the Lakers lost their momentum and Zion Williamson began to dominate in the paint. By the end of the first quarter, the Pelicans had a comfortable 34-26 lead.

James made a strong return at the start of the second quarter, sparking a quick 9-0 run for the Lakers that forced the Pelicans to call timeouts in response. Gabe Vincent, inactive during the regular season, came through with two crucial 3-pointers to give the Lakers the lead just in time.

Los Angeles continued their momentum with a 13-0 run, fueled by Prince’s sharp assist and James’ aggressive play drawing fouls. Despite Zion Williamson’s coast-to-coast buzzer-beater to cut the Lakers’ lead to 60-50, due to a turnover, the Pelicans struggled to maintain possession.

Anthony Davis had a quiet first half, with his struggles carrying over into the third quarter when he committed an offensive foul. The Pelicans’ turnovers allowed James and the Lakers to capitalize on fast breaks, extending their lead to 18 points.

However, Williamson and the Pelicans quickly countered with a fast break layup and a three-point play, prompting the Lakers to take a timeout. Despite James returning to the game, the Pelicans pushed back in the third quarter, closing the gap to just seven points, 83-76.

As the fourth quarter began, James re-entered the game and helped the Lakers regain control by assisting on a layup and a three-pointer. Yet, the Pelicans continued to fight back, hitting two three-pointers to bring the deficit down to just two points after a 9-0 run.

As Zion Williamson scored 40 points with an impressive alley-oop and layup, the game was tied at 95 with only seconds left. Despite appearing to be injured, Williamson’s return to the locker room was a game-changing moment that sealed the Lakers’ victory. In a crucial play, Reaves assisted Davis in a dunk and then helped Russell with a three-pointer, putting the Lakers ahead by four points.

In the final moments, CJ McCollum made a layup to bring the Lakers’ lead down to two. However, Reaves was fouled and successfully made both free throws, extending the lead to four points. With that, the Lakers effectively secured the win as the game came to a close.

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