NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brandon Ingram looked invigorated by the sight of some old teammates on the Lakers’ bench, while Zion Williamson resembled the reliable 20-point machine he’s become in his second pro season.
That spelled trouble for a Los Angles squad that has been struggling without injured stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Ingram scored a season-high 36 points, Williamson had 27 points and nine rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Lakers 128-111 on Tuesday night.
The 20-year-old Williamson became the first NBA player younger than 21 to score at least 20 points in 21 straight games, and he did so with his usual crowd-pleasing array of alley-oop dunks and quick, powerful drives to the hoop.
Ingram helped keep the Pelicans comfortably in front with 17 points in the third quarter, showcasing his mid-range repertoire of pull-ups, fades and turnaround jumpers — often against former Lakers teammate Kyle Kuzma.
“Going against those guys again is always fun because we kind of got drafted around the same time and we were all coming up trying to battle against each other, just trying to be better than each other,” said Ingram, who has scored 30 points 10 times this season, including in his past two games.
“Of course, I’m a competitor. So, I wanted to go back to some of those old days of just us going at it in practice,” Ingram continued. “I just tried to get the best of him.”
Pelicans guard Josh Hart — like Ingram an ex-Laker who was part of the trade that sent Davis to Los Angeles — grabbed 15 rebounds to go with five steals.
New Orleans centre Jaxson Hayes scored 15 points in 19 minutes, hitting four times inside and making all seven of his free throws.
The Lakers, lost their third straight — all without Davis and the past two without James, who sprained his ankle early in a loss to Atlanta on Saturday that started the current skid.
“We had a stretch in the second quarter where we hit a big drop, which really hurt us in this game,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We didn’t play well enough defensively, particularly in that third quarter.
“We are going to miss guys like LeBron and Anthony on both sides of the ball, so getting us organised offensively is probably my top priority right now.”
New Orleans opened its first double-digit lead in the second quarter. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s three trimmed the Pelicans’ lead to 59-46 at halftime. The Lakers never got within single digits in the second half and trailed by as many as 30.