Los Angeles Lakers overcome nagging illness to beat the Pelicans 112-104

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Several players were battling a nagging illness, but that didn’t stop the Los Angeles Lakers from securing a win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

There were several storylines coming into this Friday night battle between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans.

The illness that seemed to spread throughout multiple players for the Lakers, the return of Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram into the lineup, and the tampering or not tampering comments by LeBron James about his desire to play with All-NBA forward Anthony Davis.

Couple that in with the fact that Anthony Davis was also under the weather, and you’ve got yourself an interesting ball game.

Nevertheless, The Lakers hosted the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night, and going into the game the Lakers had to adjust their rotation to incorporate their returning players.

One change that was made to the starting lineup was Ivica Zubac getting the start in place of JaVale McGee who missed his 3rd straight game due to flu-like symptoms.

But, Zubac made his presence felt early as he started the game knocking down his first 4 shots of the game mostly on assists from LeBron James who had 7 dimes in the first quarter.

Zubac did a good job of being patient on the offensive end and letting the ball come to him. His footwork was great and he showed off that soft touch that he displayed early on in his career.

It was also apparent, however, that the Pelicans were going to be able to match one of the Lakers most valuable attributes on the court, points in the paint.

Going into this game, the Pelicans had two of the best paint scorers in the league in Anthony Davis and the returning Julius Randle, who was stepping into Staples Center for the first time against the Lakers since his departure in free agency.

It was clear that the Pelicans were going to take advantage of Zubac by throwing Randle and Davis at him early.

The Lakers fortunately were able to match the Pelicans blow for blow in the paint with LeBron James orchestrating the offense getting multiple guys involved.

Neither team could really protect the paint, and by the end of the quarter, both teams had 22 points in the paint as the score was tied at 34 after the first period.

In the second quarter, it was more of the same, however, Brandon Ingram managed to get his stride back as he started to assert himself more in the quarter.

Rajon Rondo played great minutes in the second, attacking the basket on multiple possessions and knocking down a few jumpshots on his way to 8 points in 13 minutes of action in the second quarter.

The Pelicans utilized Randle perfectly in the second quarter as he went at Kuzma and Zubac and showed that bully ball style of play that Laker fans were accustomed to seeing last season.

Randle shot 7-for-11 from the field on his way to 16 points at the half.

The Lakers ramped up their defense in the 3rd quarter and Brandon Ingram continued to stay aggressive scoring 7 points in the quarter.

Both teams were really shooting poorly from behind the arc and later in the quarter the Lakers got into a little bit of a scoring drought.

However, they managed to get back on track late in the quarter to take a 94-88 lead going into the final period.

The 4th quarter was just more of LeBron James dominating and making the right plays down the stretch.

He finished the game with his 3rd triple double this season, while Kyle Kuzma finished the game with a team leading 23 points and 3 rebounds.

Down the stretch, the Pelicans just had a hard time executing, and with Anthony Davis still under the weather and looking absolutely gassed late in the quarter, the Lakers just made smarter plays and were able to close the deal.

Add in a dagger block from Ivica Zubac on Julius Randle, and the Lakers acquired their 19th win of the season beating the Pelicans 112-104.

It really feels good that the Lakers were able to break their two-game losing streak, but the Lakers have to take the momentum from this win and carry it over to their next 4 games.

Their schedule gets even tougher over the next week highlighted by their much-anticipated matchup against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.

I’m hoping the Lakers can forget about this ridiculous Anthony Davis trade talk rumors and get back to winning basketball games.

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With the Lakers being so close to getting back to being 100% healthy, its the perfect time for them to take advantage and distance themselves from the teams below them in the Western Conference standings.

Here’s hoping the Lakers can build another streak and actually maintain it this time.