NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis capped a 41-point performance in his return to New Orleans by intercepting Jrue Holiday’s inbound pass with 5 seconds left and making a pair of game-sealing free throws, and the Los Angeles Lakers extended their winning streak to nine games with a 114-110 victory over the Pelicans on Wednesday night.
A packed-in and energetic crowd booed Davis during introductions and virtually every time he handled the ball, only to see him and new teammate LeBron James take over the fourth quarter.
James had 29 points and 11 assists, scoring 15 points in the final period, when Kyle Kuzma also added nine of his 16 points to help the Lakers erase a 10-point deficit.
Kuzma gave the Lakers the lead for good when he hit a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:07 to go, making it 111-109.
New Orleans trimmed it to 111-110 when Josh Hart hit one of two free throws, and after turnover by James as he was swarmed in the paint, JJ Redick had an open look from 3-point range for the lead that rimmed out. The Pelicans were forced to foul Davis, who missed one of two free throws, giving the Pelicans 5 seconds to run a play for the tie or lead. But that’s when Davis sealed it, stepping in front of Brandon Ingram for his third steal.
Holiday had 29 points and 12 assists, and Ingram had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans, who dropped their third straight game.
Trailing by as many as 16 in the third quarter, the Lakers began to take control with a 9-0 run to open the fourth, trimming New Orleans’ lead to 89-88. Los Angeles tied the game at 91 on Kuzma’s third 3.
New Orleans briefly went back up by four before Davis, who’d received treatment after banging his right elbow at the end of the third quarter, returned to the game and immediately threw down an alley-oop feed from James.
The Lakers took their first lead since the opening five minutes of the game when James hit a jumper over Ingram, pulling up as the Pelicans forward glanced over his shoulder to see if a screen was being set.
Davis missed his first shot and three of his first four to the delight of the crowd, but still scored 27 points by halftime.
There were moments Davis appeared to drawing fuel from the crowd’s antagonism.
When he hit a put-back while being fouled, he demonstrably mimicked officials’ “count-it-and-one” gesture with his arm extended and index finger pointed angled downward. When he hit a 3 later in the half, he pressed his thumb and forefinger together and extended the other three fingers as he ran back on defense.
Ultimately, Davis executed about every move New Orleans fans knew and loved when he wore the No. 23 in blue, red and gold, from soaring alley-oop dunks to turn-around, baseline fades. Only this time, he wore a gold jersey with a purple No. 3, and it was his misses that drew triumphant roars from the crowd.
The Pelicans appeared buoyed by the partisan energy permeating the arena, going up 38-35 on Holiday’s step-back 3 as the first quarter expired.
New Orleans led 64-54 at halftime, thanks in large part to Holiday’s 10-of-15 shooting to that point, including his 4-of-4 mark from 3-point range. And the Pelicans maintained a double-digit lead until early in the fourth quarter.