The Lakers entered Wednesday night’s game against the Pelicans desperate to string together some positive performances, and through one half of play it looked like they might get that, leading 56-44 at the break.
However, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum led a second half comeback that saw the Pelicans take control late in the fourth quarter as the L.A. offense bogged down. It seemed like the dagger might have gone in when a questionable Lakers possession saw LeBron dribble into a fading, contested midrange that missed off the rim, leading to a runout dunk by Larry Nance Jr. put the Pelicans up three.
LARRY HUSTLE ON BOTH ENDS!!!! pic.twitter.com/fTZBARdcgZ
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) November 3, 2022
After Lonnie Walker IV (who was the star of the night for L.A. with 28 points) missed a good look from the corner to tie with 1.7 to go, it all but felt like a formality that the Lakers would slip to 1-6 on the season. However, rookie Dyson Daniels could not make either of his free throws to put the Pelicans on top by two possessions, and the Lakers were able to advance the ball with 1.4 on the clock. From there, Austin Reaves delivered a perfect pass to Matt Ryan in the corner, who the Pelicans somehow lost on an Anthony Davis screen inside the arc despite being up three.
MATT RYAN WITH AN INCREDIBLE BUZZER BEATER TO SEND IT TO OT!
— NBA (@NBA) November 3, 2022
As the Lakers broadcast pointed out, the Pelicans shouldn’t have been doing anything but worrying about three-point shooters in this circumstance, and as such, it should’ve been more important to keep someone attached to Ryan rather than Davis at the elbow. They didn’t, and Ryan was able to get a falling three off before the buzzer to force OT.
In overtime, the Lakers took the early lead on Walker’s fifth three-pointer of the night and never looked back, as the Pelicans simply couldn’t finish anything, with the dagger coming after Zion left a finger-roll short on a 5-on-3, allowing Anthony Davis to get a wide open dunk on the other end to put the Lakers up five. New Orleans would get a shot up to force double overtime, but a stepback from McCollum went begging and Davis dribbled out the clock for a 120-117 Lakers win.
It’s a gutting loss for the Pelicans after fighting back to take full control, needing just one free throw to ice the game, and it’s particularly tough for the young Daniels who had been inserted for his defense. As for the Lakers, they now own their first winning streak of the season at two games, and while it wasn’t the prettiest close to the game, they get some positive vibes going really for the first time all season.