Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs. Pelicans – Game 72


The Los Angeles Lakers were able to end the 2020-21 regular season on a high note, earning a 110-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.


Lakers vs Pelicans
Photo Credit: NBA

The Lakers raced out to a 12-6 lead thanks to Dennis Schroder, who was knocking down open jumpers and get all the way to the cup. Schroder briefly extended the lead to nine after hitting his second 3-pointer, but the Pelicans were able to cut it back down to five with a couple of drives to the rim.

LeBron James had no issues carving up New Orleans’ interior defense, consistently getting open looks near the basket to keep Los Angeles comfortably in front. Marc Gasol and Alex Caruso made plays on the offensive end, and the Lakers would go into the second leading 36-28.

Wesley Matthews knocked down a three-off good perimeter ball movement and later got an easy layup off a Gasol backdoor pass. New Orleans’ bench did a good job of battling back and cutting Los Angeles’ lead to single digits, but a James 3-pointer and free throws pushed the lead back to 11.


However, the Lakers let their foot off the gas pedal and allowed the Pelicans to make a 7-0 run to get within four. The finish to the quarter was frenetic as both teams were able to push the ball in transition but a buzzer-beating New Orleans 3-pointer from nearly halfcourt left Los Angeles with a 63-59 lead.


Lakers vs Pelicans
Photo Credit: NBA

Aside from a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three, the Lakers got off to a slow start in the third as they had trouble slowing down a feisty Pelicans squad. Andre Drummond provided a spark with plays on both sides of the floor, allowing L.A. to cling to a slim three-point lead.

The Lakers were able to take more control of the game as they were able to start getting stops, while Kyle Kuzma delivered the play of the night as he threw the basketball off the glass to himself for a dunk. Los Angeles then blew the game open in the closing minutes to take a commanding 91-76 lead into the fourth.

There was a scary moment in the fourth as Jaxson Hayes was helped off the floor after colliding with Gasol on a dunk attempt. However, the Lakers suffered their own injury scare as James appeared to re-roll his right ankle but seemed in good spirits on the bench.

Midway through the period, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel opted to play his bench unit with the Lakers ahead double digits. The team was able to maintain their advantage and end the season with a victory.

Unfortunately, the win was rather meaningless as the Lakers still finish seventh in the Western Conference and will be in the Play-In Tournament this week.


Lakers News and Notes:


Lakers vs Pelicans
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Lakers

Following the conclusion of the 2020-21 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers wound up in the seventh seed in the Western Conference. As such, they will host the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors in the first play-in game on Wednesday, March 18, at 7:00 pm PT. The game will be televised on ESPN and can be streamed on ESPN-Plus.

The Lakers finished the season with a record of 42-30, tied for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference with the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, but fell to seventh due to tiebreakers. The Warriors clinched the eighth seed via a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on the final night of the regular season, finishing with a 39-33 record, one game ahead of Memphis.

The winner of the game between the Lakers and Warriors will be the seventh seed and face the second-seed Phoenix Suns in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The loser of the contest will have one more chance to make the final field, hosting the winner of the game between the ninth-seeded Grizzlies and the tenth-seed San Antonio Spurs. The winner of that contest will be the eighth seed and take on the top-seed Utah Jazz.

This season, the Lakers had the advantage over the Warriors, winning two of the three contests between the two teams. The Lakers’ victories came by margins of 26 and 31 points, while the Warriors’ victory was by just two points in a contest the Lakers lead by double-digits going into the final quarter.

Injuries have been a major factor for both of these teams during this season. The Lakers were without superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis for a large portion of the year. The Warriors, meanwhile, missed Klay Thompson for the entire season while top prospect James Wiseman is also out for the year.

The Warriors still have two-time MVP Stephen Curry, who led the NBA in scoring this season at 32 points per game. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole also provide some offensive punch, while three-time All-Star Draymond Green provides a lot as a playmaker and defensive presence.


Lakers vs Pelicans
Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports

Both teams also come into the contest on big win streaks as the Lakers have won five consecutive games while the Warriors have won six straight.

Obviously, the Lakers would have preferred not to be in the play-in tournament, and LeBron James himself has recently expressed his displeasure with the concept. But with it being the reality, the team isn’t concerned with it.

“Let the chips fall where they may. Simple as that. We’re ready to go,” James said following the Lakers’ victory over the Indiana Pacers in the second-to-last game of the season. Fellow superstar Anthony Davis echoed those feelings.

“Same way. We’re ready to play whatever game,” Davis said following the Pacers win. “If it’s playoffs where we’re the 6 seed or got to play in the Play-In as the seventh seed, we don’t care.

“It’s not gonna stop us one or the other which way we do to take our mind off our goal. It’s not gonna give us any discouragement that we’re not in the top six. We don’t really care, we can control what we can control, and that’s winning this last ballgame, and like he said, let the chips fall where they may.”


The Lakers will host the Golden State Warrios in the play-in game Wednesday at Staples Center. The tip-off is at 7:00pm and the game can be seen on ESPN.

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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

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