The Lakers (9-31) ended a four-game losing streak, winning an ugly one against the New Orleans Pelicans (11-26) on Tuesday night. Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 95-91 victory at Staples Center.
1. Injuries to Kobe Bryant (Achilles) and Brandon Bass (foot) led to a young lineup to close out the game late in the fourth quarter. Coach Byron Scott went with veteran Lou Williams, and four first- or second-year players in Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and Anthony Brown.
The combination worked, with Randle snagging multiple key rebounds and hitting the go-ahead basket with 43.3 seconds remaining. Williams scored the game’s final field goal to help give the Lakers enough breathing room to win.
2. As a team, the Lakers shot just 36.8%. Bryant played 16 minutes, missing six of nine shots. Williams converted just four of 14. Clarkson missed 12 of 17.
Nick Young played nine minutes. His two misses were by feet, not inches.
3. It was the first game of the year that the Lakers won after trailing for three quarters. They turned the ball over just eight times, a season best.
Randle said that veteran Metta World Peace had told him during the game that the Lakers were going to have to win ugly.
In the final tally, the Lakers outscored the Pelicans, 25-9, at the free-throw line.
Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, right, shoots as Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham defends during the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Lakers forward Julius Randle shoots as Pelicans forward Luke Babbitt defends during the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) passes the ball as Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham defends during the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
New Orleans Pelicans guard Norris Cole, right, shoots as Lakers center Roy Hibbert tries to block his shot during a Jan. 12 game at Staples Center.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Pelicans center Omer Asik, left, and Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson reach for a rebound during the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
4. The Pelicans played without their all-star Anthony Davis, out with a sore back.
“It about playing hard and competing, that’s what it’s about,” said New Orleans Coach Alvin Gentry. “If we play hard and compete and then we don’t have enough talent, then we will talk about that but until you play hard, that is the very first thing that you check off the list.”
The Pelicans last year were a playoff team with essentially the same roster, but the team hasn’t fared well this season.
5. The Lakers are still in last place in the Western Conference, better than just the Philadelphia 76ers (4-36).
The Lakers are 9.5 games behind the eighth-place Utah Jazz (17-20) and now just 3.5 behind the 14th-place Pelicans.
If the Lakers climb in the standings, their odds for a top-three selection will dip to 46.9%.