The Los Angeles Lakers have five games left to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Despite having both Anthony Davis and LeBron James return from injury on Friday night, Los Angeles fell to the New Orleans Pelicans at Crypto.com Arena, 114-111, in a loss that makes the already tall task of passing the San Antonio Spurs for the final spot in the play-in tournament a little tougher.
With 3:11 left in the game, Russell Westbrook made a layup to put L.A. up by three. From there, the Lakers had a nearly three-minute scoring drought, all while the Pelicans outscored them by seven to take the lead. An Avery Bradley three followed by a pair of free throws by CJ McCollum gave New Orleans a three-point lead, and while James had a look to force overtime, both Herb Jones and Larry Nance pestered him just enough that his attempt from deep didn’t hit the rim.
The loss knocked the Lakers to 31-46 on the year, which puts them a full game behind the Spurs with five games remaining this year. Further complicating matters is that San Antonio holds the tiebreaker over Los Angeles, meaning this is actually a two-game lead, and as Matt Moore of Action Network laid out, the Lakers’ paths to the play-in are increasingly narrow.
Spurs and Lakers have 5 games left.
Spurs 5-0: Spurs 10th
Spurs 4-1: Spurs 10th
Spurs 3-2, Lakers 4-1 or worse: Spurs 10th
Spurs 2-3, Lakers 3-2 or worse: Spurs 10thAdvertisementAdvertisement
Spurs 1-4, Lakers 2-3 or worse: Spurs 10th
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 2, 2022
Los Angeles will try to bounce back on Sunday afternoon against the Denver Nuggets.