A 28-point loss to the Pelicans!? Lakers’ issues grow uglier in boo-filled flop

Lakers center Dwight Howard and New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas battle for a rebound.
Lakers center Dwight Howard, left, and New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas battle for a rebound during the first half of the Lakers’ 123-95 loss Sunday at Arena.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers were booed off the Arena court Sunday night, their 123-95 beatdown by the New Orleans Pelicans leaving their fans displeased and leaving the players from Los Angeles searching for answers for a season that has gone off the rails.

The Lakers have lost their first two games after the All-Star break, showing no sense of urgency against the Pelicans, falling six games below .500 (27-33).

Obviously, this wasn’t expected for a Lakers team many viewed as a championship contender when the season started.


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“I think each play we get down on ourselves too much and just not playing as hard as we can,” said Russell Westbrook, who had 16 points, one assist and seven turnovers. “Teams are coming in and playing harder. And I believe that’s kind of the scouting report, just play harder than them and see what happens and it’s working. Until we determine and have a determination that we’re not going to allow it, especially on our home floor, it will continue to happen to us.”

As the ninth seed in the West, the Lakers now hold just a 2½-game lead over the 10th-seeded Pelicans.

The Lakers have 22 regular-season games remaining, two of them against this same New Orleans team that just steamrolled Los Angeles.

LeBron James led the Lakers with 32 points on 13-for-23 shooting, but his effort was meaningless in a game the Lakers trailed by as many as 32 points. James also had seven turnovers.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook puts up a shot in front of New Orleans' Jaxson Hayes and Herbert Jones.
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, center, puts up a shot in front of New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes, left, and forward Herbert Jones during the first half.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“Well, I don’t have an answer for tonight,” James said. “Obviously, you talk about the future, that’s for us to figure out. Who can know what can happen the next few weeks? But tonight, from the six-minute point of the second quarter through the third, no answers. That team has been playing well: They went into Phoenix, beat them, and obviously beat the doors off us today, mostly in that third quarter. So, don’t have too many answers.”


The Lakers shot just 20.6% (seven for 34) from three-point range.

When James threw a cross-court pass that went under Talen Horton-Tucker’s hands and out of bounds with five minutes left in the third quarter, the boos started.

When the Lakers called a timeout with 5:39 left, now down 75-53, the boos came yet again. When the Lakers went down 95-65 at the end of the third quarter, the fans booed them again. By game’s end, the Lakers had 23 turnovers.

“It’s real easy to give up, throw in the towel and say negative things,” Dwight Howard said. “So, I’m really at a loss for words. But we got to stay positive. We can’t sulk in defeat, and we can’t quit on each other. I know it’s been a very rough season.”

The Lakers were outscored 44-25 in the third. Their defense was ripped apart, allowing the Pelicans to shoot 64% in the third. Their offense was horrible, the Lakers making just 33.3% of their shots in the third, missing all nine of their three-point attempts.

The Lakers were unable to slow New Orleans’ trio of Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas and CJ McCollum.

Ingram produced 19 points, eight assists and five rebounds, Valanciunas had another double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and McCollum had 22 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

“I feel like we get deflated when we don’t play well and the other team’s on a run, which I think is pretty much all 30 teams would have the same response,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “But I don’t think it’s about not caring. This group wants to get some traction, it wants to get some wins, put some wins on the board, play better than we’re playing. But if it doesn’t go well, it’s natural to get deflated sometimes. Our guys had moments like that but then they pushed through it, tried to keep fighting.”


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