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Lakers don't match up well against Pelicans' star Anthony Davis

New Orleans ends eight-game losing streak as Lakers can't keep momentum from victory at Portland.

March 04, 2014|By Ben Bolch

This is what the Lakers do.

They go out and beat one of the NBA's top teams on the road, only to return home and unfurl a clunker against a team that hadn't won since before the All-Star break.

There's a reason the Lakers are 21-40.

At least they made it somewhat entertaining. A crazed comeback from 21 points down fell short in the final minute Tuesday night at Staples Center, the New Orleans Pelicans doing just enough to emerge 132-125 winners.

BOX SCORE: New Orleans 132, Lakers 125

Kent Bazemore and Jordan Farmar missed three-pointers that could have brought the Lakers to within one point and Bazemore followed by airballing a jumper with 13 seconds left.

It also didn't help the Lakers that they kept sending the Pelicans to the free-throw line and Pau Gasol missed two free throws in the final 3 minutes 10 seconds.

The defeat served as a sharp rebuttal to the Lakers' unexpected triumph 24 hours earlier against the Portland Trail Blazers, with Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni saying his team was suffering from "an emotional hangover."

"It took us at least two quarters to even get into anybody," D'Antoni said. "I mean, the first 10 minutes looked like a layup drill for the other team and once you get that started and they're starving for a win and now you're giving them confidence."

The Lakers tried matching up 6-foot-7 Wesley Johnson against All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who had a three-inch height advantage. Bad move.

Davis soared for dunks and drove for layups and generally made a mockery of the Lakers' defense on the way to 28 points and 15 rebounds.

It wasn't just Johnson who looked foolish trying to stop him.

Gasol, Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly were equally helpless as the Pelicans ended an eight-game losing streak. Their last victory before Tuesday came Feb. 12.

Gasol scored a season-high 29 points on an efficient 10-for-15 shooting, and it didn't matter.

The Lakers' problem was their defense.

They couldn't stop Davis, Eric Gordon (28 points) or Tyreke Evans (24). The Pelicans even got a point during a timeout in the fourth quarter when officials ruled Anthony Morrow's jumper a three-pointer.

"I think early on, we didn't make it tough on them finishing around the basket," Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall said.

It was not exactly a must-see matchup, the crowd of 18,436 counting as the Lakers' third non-sellout of the season and second against the Pelicans. Tickets were going for as cheap as $9.14 on StubHub shortly before the game.

Bazemore had 23 points, continuing his emergence as a Laker after a quiet 31/2 months with the Golden State Warriors. He has 118 points in seven games with the Lakers after scoring 101 points in 44 games with the Warriors.

D'Antoni switched his lineup after Marshall missed all four of his shots in the first half, going with Jordan Farmar to start the third quarter. Farmar responded with 13 of his 20 points in the second half but couldn't make the shot the Lakers needed down by four points with 43 seconds left.

"We have to be perfect to get wins," Sacre said, "and tonight wasn't a perfect night."

The Lakers were trying to win a third consecutive game for only the second time this season and the first time since late November, when D'Antoni said his team had some special stuff.

"Well, that special stuff just took six weeks off," D'Antoni quipped before the game.

It's still missing on most nights for the Lakers.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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