Lakers Lose To Pelicans Making Their Fans Very Happy


The incentive for winning is the playoffs. The incentive for losing is the lottery. Both, the Pelicans and Lakers had skin in the game on Wednesday night. The Pelicans needed to keep pace with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the 8th seed while the Lakers needed to lose to keep the Orlando Magic off their back.

And yet, Wednesday night’s game at Staples Center came down to something much simpler than playoff seeding and lottery picks and nine games left in a brutal season. Defense was the missing link as the Lakers displayed an allergic reaction to guarding anyone in the 48 minutes they were out on the floor. The Pelicans shot 56%, 56% on threes. They outscored the Lakers in the paint, had three times as many blocks and 31 assists. By the end of the third quarter, they had 5 players in double figures.

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The Pelicans weren’t a virtue of defensive principles either as Jordan Clarkson continued his I-should-be-next-year’s-starting-point guard high level of play. He had 18 points, 10 assists,  7 rebounds, shooting 77%. Tarik Black took more shots in the first half than any other Lakers player (8) and Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin returned to the lineup, though neither were particularly effective, 26% shooting, particularly Boozer blowing lay-ups. A bright spot was the Lakers meager 5 turnovers.

Jabari Brown, who the Lakers signed for the rest of the season and has a non-guaranteed deal for next year, had 6 points in 30 minutes but it was Ed Davis, who was a solitary figure on the bench, that didn’t make much sense. He and Sacre were the only players who didn’t get time in a game the Lakers needed to lose. Their presence would not have changed the outcome from beat down to close contest. Neither can guard Norris Cole, Tyreke Evans or Anthony Davis, so what the hell. Put them in to be punished like everyone else.

The lead mushroomed to 20 as the third quarter ended creating a collective sigh from Los Angeles to China as the Lakers threw in the towel in the fourth and the lead went to 25. Earlier in the night, the Orlando Magic lost to the Spurs. If the Lakers wanted to win the percentages game, they had to lose to the Pelicans to maintain their 1.5 game lead over the Magic.

Credit this apathetic defensive performance for one thing: mission accomplished. It was one of the few times this season the Lakers could say that particular phrase with a straight face and not have their fans puke.

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