No Kobe, no problem for Lakers

NEW ORLEANS • Life after Kobe Bryant seems to be going just fine for this bold, new brand of run-and-gun Los Angeles Lakers.

Behind a backcourt quartet of Jordan Clarkson (23 points), D'Angelo Russell (22), Lou Williams (21) and Nick Young (15), the Lakers demolished the New Orleans Pelicans 126-99 on Saturday at the Smoothie King Centre.

The Lakers' backcourt accounted for 81 points on 31-of-51 shooting, including 15 of 25 from three-point range.

The four guards also had 15 of the Lakers' 36 assists on 52 made field goals, the most for the Lakers since collecting 36 in a National Basketball Association (NBA) game against Houston on April 8, 2014.

In winning for the fifth time in six games, the Lakers (6-4) overshadowed the game-high 34 points by Anthony Davis.

The Pelicans' forward fell awkwardly to the floor midway through the third quarter after making a floater in the lane and suffered an injury to his lower right back.

  • 15

    Three-pointers the LA Lakers backcourt made - a whopping 60 per cent accuracy rate

Although Davis returned after spending six minutes in the locker room, the Lakers exploited his absence to go on a 16-4 run, turning a 63-62 advantage into a 79-66 lead.

Los Angeles extended their lead to as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter. They outscored New Orleans 71-43 in the second half.

"I think our guys love competing," Los Angeles coach Luke Walton said.

"I think they felt more challenged in the second half to go get it done."

The NBA's best bench - which came into the game leading the league averaging 48.8 points per game - poured in 73 of the Lakers' 126 points.

"I'm just trying to stay on the floor," said Williams, whose 21 points came in 25 minutes off the bench. "This team is so deep. In order for me to stay on the floor, I'm trying to bring different elements to the game."

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said his team did not have the depth to handle the Lakers' bench.

"Their bench came in and just dominated," he said. "We had that stretch with AD out where it went from being a three-point game to a 16-point game. Then, after that, we were playing catch-up."

Gentry is not surprised that Walton has the young Lakers, demoralised after a franchise-worst 17-65 season and learning to live without retired superstar Bryant, playing buoyant basketball.

"It doesn't surprise me what they're doing," said Gentry. "He'll (Walton) get the most out of any player he has.

"I know that one of the young guys said 'I'll take a bullet for him'. In our profession if a player's willing to take a bullet for you, you've accomplished a lot."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'No Kobe, no problem for Lakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe