Pelicans stun Lakers with huge comeback win: 3 takeaways

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) hugs guard CJ McCollum Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) hugs guard CJ McCollum Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Orleans Pelicans
Herbert Jones of the New Orleans Pelicans grads LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

It was a tale of two halves for the New Orleans Pelicans.

After playing one of their worst halves of the season, New Orleans rallied in the second behind their defense, Brandon Ingram and some timely contributions from Trey Murphy III.

They turned a 23-point deficit into an eight-point win much to the delight of the packed crowd, which had its share of purple and gold dappled throughout.

There were far too many Lakers’ jerseys in the first few rows and it was a thing of beauty to watch them stand there stunned at the end of the game.

The win propelled the Pelicans into the 9th seed, which has implications not only for the play-in tournament but for the 2022 NBA Draft pick they are owed from the Lakers.

The 9th seed not only gets New Orleans home court advantage in the play-in game, but would also give them much getter odds of keeping their pick, which they get if it falls into the top-10.

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With so much on the line it was great to see the young Pelicans step up, and just about everyone had a hand in this win.

Here are three takeaways from the Pelicans’ stunning comeback.

New Orleans Pelicans: It starts with the defense

After allowing 69 first half points to the Lakers, most of which looked far too easy, the Pelicans started making it hard.

They closed the space the Lakers were getting in the first half, forced LA into tough shots by playing ball handlers into the help, got their hands in the passing lanes and tried to force someone other than LeBron to take shots.

Herbert Jones led the way with six steals and it was his 4th-quarter defense on LeBron that was the difference in the game, as he made it tough for LBJ to even catch the ball.

Stops in the early third quarter led to transition buckets and early offense where the Lakers were off balance and often had to resort to fouls.

The Pelicans have been building their identity around their defense this season, and it was the reason they were able to come back last night.

They held LeBron James scoreless for the final eight minutes and the entire Lakers team for the final two, riding their defense to the win.