Anthony Davis made his highly anticipated return to New Orleans on Wednesday night for the first time as a member of the Lakers. Davis, unsurprisingly, got booed by fans of his former team — something he grew accustomed to in the three months following his trade request last season.
In the early goings, the Pelicans were red-hot, hitting 9-of-11 three-point attempts in the first quarter, and jumped out to a 13-point lead. The Lakers slowly clawed their way back into the game, eventually claiming a lead in the fourth quarter. The two teams traded leads down the stretch, but as has been the case in a number of games this season, the difference in the closing seconds was the Lakers defense, led by Davis.
After splitting a pair of free throws to give New Orleans a chance to tie or take the lead with 5.3 seconds to play, Davis, who finished the night with a season-high 41 points, was able to steal the inbounds pass from Jrue Holiday to Brandon Ingram to seal the win.
4.2 left on ESPN. NOP ball. pic.twitter.com/nLcri63Z3T
— NBA (@NBA) November 28, 2019
Davis would make both free throws on his last trip to the line to make it a four-point game and give the Lakers a ninth straight win as they continue to hold down the NBA’s best record. Davis did most of his damage inside, where he posed major problems for a Pelicans team without much in the way of frontcourt size and depth right now. Davis and LeBron connected on a couple of lobs and overall he found himself in the post against smaller defenders for most of the night.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) November 28, 2019
It hasn’t always been pretty for the Lakers during the win streak, but the thing we’ve learned about this team is that when it comes down to crunch time they are awfully hard to handle on both ends of the floor.
With LeBron and Davis attacking the rim on offense, it puts tremendous strain on defenses and often leads to open looks on the perimeter for the rest of the Lakers — in this game it was Kyle Kuzma who cashed in on a big three late from a LeBron assist. On defense, they have been tremendous as a team, but led by Davis who is playing at a DPOY level to start the year, making good on his promise to be that kind of impact player on the defensive end for the Lakers.