New Orleans, Louisiana, 2 March 2020 (tca/dpa/MIA) – LeBron James faced Zion Williamson one on one, with just 2:27 left in the game. James stepped back and released a three-pointer over the heralded New Orleans Pelicans’ rookie and sank it.
Having given the Los Angeles Lakers a five-point lead, he backpedaled and looked toward his bench with his tongue hanging out, Williamson trailing close behind. James’ face then settled into a snarl.
The Lakers won the final regular-season chapter of their series against the New Orleans Pelicans 122-114 to finish undefeated against the young Pelicans.
James notched a triple-double with 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds. Kyle Kuzma started in place of Anthony Davis, who was listed with a sore knee, and scored 20 points with four rebounds and one assist. The Lakers also got 40 points off their bench, nearly twice of what the Pelicans could muster from theirs.
Williamson led the Pelicans with 33 points and seven rebounds. Lonzo Ball nearly had a triple-double for the Pelicans with 19 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
The Lakers had a four-point lead in the first quarter, and a two-point lead at halftime. There were 16 lead changes through the first three quarters.
The Lakers often double-teamed Williamson, and the Pelicans often double-teamed James – with less success.
On a critical play with 7:28 left, James was behind Williamson as the former Duke standout dribbled the ball, then Kentavious Caldwell-Pope arrived to put extra pressure on the Pelicans’ rookie. Williamson backed up, fell and turned over the ball. The Lakers scored to take a five-point lead.
The Lakers could face the Pelicans again in the first round of the playoffs. Sunday’s game, though, put a momentary dent into the Pelicans’ postseason hopes. They are three games behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who are currently in eighth place.