The Lakers Are A Full Game Back Of The Play-In With Five Games Left After Losing To The Pelicans

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.

Los Angeles will try to bounce back on Sunday afternoon against the Denver Nuggets.