Much was made about Anthony Davis’ historic demolition of Pau Gasol and the Lakers Friday night. The Lakers were not amused. With a quick chance at redemption, the Lakers returned the over-powering performance they received with one of their one, dominating in just about every facet as they easily defeated the Pelicans
The night started with a host of changes to the starting line-up from one that put up a putrid performance against Minnesota. Jodie Meeks stepped in for the injured Steve Nash, while Wes Johnson and Jordan Hill replaced Nick Young and Chris Kaman as the starting five, and it clearly paid dividends. Hill led the way for the Lakers with a career-high 21 points while adding 11 rebounds in his first double-double of the season. Fellow starting new-comer Meeks poured in 15 points on 3 threes. Johnson added just five points with 5 rebounds, but was a constant menace on the defensive end and earned his keep.
Both Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar quarterbacked the Lakers offense efficiently, finishing with a combined 18 assists and 4 turnovers. Pau Gasol looked much like the Gasol of old finishing with 14 and 8 on 6 of 10 shooting. Most importantly, he helped hold Davis in check with just 15 points and 5 rebounds, but most of those coming late in the game with the outcome already decided.
Early on, the two squads battled back and forth with the Lakers carrying just a 3-point lead into the second quarter. However, the purple and gold blew the game open in the second frame with a 22-5 run to start the quarter. Thanks to early foul trouble by Davis, the Lakers controlled the game throughout the quarter and took 16-point lead into the half.
The third quarter highlighted the night. Hill, who was set up beautifully by both Gasol as well as the point guards on the night, had a couple big finishes in the quarter, as did Kaman and Gasol. But the ultimate highlight came from Xavier Henry, who caught the ball at the top of the three point line, faked a pass to his right, drove the lane, and rose over top former teammate Jeff Whithey en route to hammering home an emphatic finish. Henry finished with 15 on the line, including 3 of 3 from beyond the arc, but none were as impressive as those two.
Mike D’Antoni, who has been ever-tinkering the starting lineups and rotations, may have finally found his perfect combination. The starters outscored the bench (60 to 56), but both units remained effective. With Nash out for at least two weeks – and likely more – the Lakers have to begin to settle upon a normal rotation. Tonight, they may have just found it.
The Lakers are back at it in the always tough Pepsi Center as they look for just their second road win of the season as they battle the Nuggets. Tip-off is set for 9:00 PM eastern, 6:00 PM western.