‘We were playing the right way.’ How Anthony Davis and Malik Beasley sparked Lakers

Lakers forward Anthony Davis leans back to take a shot over two Pelicans defenders.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis leans back to take a shot over the double-team defense of Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. and guard Trey Murphy III during the first half Tuesday night.
(Matthew Hinton / Associated Press)

They both were looking for some redemption for their poor play and both Anthony Davis and Malik Beasley delivered on their promise to be better for the Lakers the next time out.

Throughout his 33 minutes and 19 seconds Tuesday night at New Orleans, Davis played with force and a determination in collecting 35 points and 17 rebounds.

Throughout his 16 minutes in the first half when Beasley did most of his damage, the shooting guard was stroking his three-ball with ease in scoring 21 of his 24 in the first 24 minutes.


Davis and Beasley were the constants for the Lakers, who had five players score in double figures as they shot lights out from three-point range during a 123-108 win over the Pelicans at Smoothie King Center.

This marked the ninth game in which Davis has produced at least 30 points and 15 rebounds, the most in the NBA this season.

With Anthony Davis playing at the top of his game, the Lakers are a happy team again with their playoff hopes entering a critical stage of the season.

March 11, 2023

He was 11 for 19 from the field and missed just one of his 13 free throws in helping the Lakers bounce back from Sunday’s loss to New York.

“I took a lot of ownership for that game against New York, the way I played,” Davis said. “I just wanted to come out ultra aggressive tonight, knowing how important this game was. Everybody did. We were playing the right way, playing great defensively and sharing the ball offensively, playing together and we were clicking on all cylinders.”

The joke LeBron James made to Beasley still had the Lakers guard laughing when he told it to the media at the shoot-around earlier Tuesday, and it apparently put him at ease and in the right frame of mind to forget about his shooting woes.

“Bron said I can’t miss three in a row no more,” Beasley said, smiling. “So, now I gotta make sure I don’t miss three in a row and just make the right shots.”


And he did, making five of his first six three-pointers. He made seven of 12 three-pointers overall, each three he took looking more and more pure.

“Yeah, I felt confident tonight,” Beasley said. “I just told myself to keep doing what I’m doing, don’t change anything up and don’t worry about the pressure of making shots, just do it. I did that and I felt good to get back in rhythm, but especially to get the win.”

This victory in which the Lakers built a 40-point lead in the third quarter and saw it dip to 13 in the fourth quarter before they righted themselves pulled them to within one game of .500.

Lakers guard Malik Beasley savors a three point basket and calls out to the crowd.
Lakers guard Malik Beasley (5) savors a three point basket and calls out to the crowd in the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans on Tuesday.
(Matthew Hinton / Associated Press)

The Lakers (34-35), tied with Dallas and Oklahoma City for the eighth-best record in the West, can get to .500 for the first time all season Wednesday at Houston.

But it won’t be easy because Davis will not be playing.

Even though Davis is pain-free after recovering from a right foot stress injury, the Lakers organization has advised him and coach Darvin Ham that it’s best to rest the center on the second of back-to-back games.


The Lakers have one more set of back-to-backs, at Utah on April 4 and at the Clippers on April 5.

“I mean, it’s tough, especially because each game [is meaningful],” Davis said. “Obviously, you want to go out and play. But before I even came back, it’s something the doctors and the organization discussed that they thought it would be best for me not to play back-to-backs because the foot, even though I’m not feeling pain and everything, it’s still an active injury. It’s still a stress reaction. And we’re doing all the right things to make sure that I’m ready to go and I still need that day break. Obviously, it sucks.”

The 15 three-pointers the Lakers drilled in the first 24 minutes were a franchise record for threes in a half. And Beasley had just about half, going seven for 10 from three-point range in the first half. They shot 46.2% from three-point range for the game.

The 36-point lead the Lakers built in the first half amounted to them scoring 75 points after the first two quarters, their highest scoring half this season. It was the Lakers’ largest lead on the road since at least 1955. Their previous best lead at the half was 33 at Miami in 1989.

Anthony Davis tries to take blame for the Lakers’ loss to the Knicks on Sunday, but teammate Dennis Schroder says they win and lose as a team.

March 13, 2023

“At one point I was like, ‘Damn, we hot,’ especially after Rui [Hachimura] hit the second one,” Beasley said. “So, that was huge for us just to see the ball go in.”

For the first time since James suffered a right foot tendon injury against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 26, the Lakers All-Star forward did some shooting during the team’s shoot-around Tuesday and he did some weightlifting.


Ham said it was “definitely encouraging to see him out there,” but the team will stick with the plan in regards to James’ recovery.

The Lakers had said James would be reevaluated in three weeks after he was first given his diagnosis.

“As I said, I think he’ll be reevaluated in a week,” Ham said. “So, we won’t try to speculate or assume anything. We’ll just let that take its course and hope for the best. But it was definitely encouraging to see him out there.”