Lakers dismantle Pelicans in second half for fifth straight win

  • The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma knocks a rebound away from the Pelicans’ Josh Hart during Friday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) moves the ball up court as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell (15) looks to pass as the Pelicans’ Nicolo Melli (20) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) looks to pass as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram (14) shoots as the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) grabs a rebound away from the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans offensive foul on Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram (14) fouls the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) on his way to the hoop during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell (15) dunks the ball during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots as Pelicans’ Nicolo Melli (20) and Eric Bledsoe (5) defend during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Dennis Schroder (17) dives for a loose ball as the Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis shoots during Friday’s game against the Pelicans at Staples Center. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Dennis Schroder (17) passes the ball as the Pelicans’ Eric Bledsoe (5) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) passes the ball during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) wipes his face during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) attempts to keep the ball inbounds as the Lakers’ LeBron James (23) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) dunks the ball during their NBA game against the Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots a 3-point shot as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Head coach Frank Vogel watches play against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers keep the ball from Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans pivots around Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans scores on a layup during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans loses his dribble as Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers falls during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores over Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket past Eric Bledsoe #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers dives for the ball in front of Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans and LeBron James #23 during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores in front of Nicolo Melli #20 and Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles in front of Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans is fouled by LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers as he drives on Markieff Morris #88 during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a play with Montrezl Harrell #15 and Dennis Schroder #17 during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a basket with Anthony Davis #3 and Alex Caruso #4 during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks during the first quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) deflects a shot by New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) tries to take the ball from Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroeder, left, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) reaches for a rebound between forward Zion Williamson (1) and Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, right, defends against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, top, and New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) air their differences during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli, left, and center Steven Adams (12) defend against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroeder, right, defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers steals a pass at center court during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a three pointer from LeBron James #23 after a timeout during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a three pointer from LeBron James #23 during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks up at a replay during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans gets position in front of LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores on a layup around Nicolo Melli #20 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers blocks the shot of Kira Lewis Jr. #13 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles in front of Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans attempts a shot in front of Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket in front of Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers keep the ball from Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans passes in front of Anthony Davis #3 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dunks against New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli, center, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell dunks during the fourth quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Kira Lewis Jr. goes to the basket as Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) and center Montrezl Harrell (15) defend during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell (15) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson dunks during the third quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell (15) defends during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Kira Lewis Jr. (13) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Head coach Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as LeBron James #23 leaves the game during a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers gives an interview after a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers gives an interview after a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers have looked a lot like frontrunners lately, riding a winning streak that saw them ring up several blowouts on the road. How, then, would they respond to a youthful team out-shooting them and out-defending them to take a 15-point lead?

With plenty of patience.

As the visiting New Orleans Pelicans got out to an explosive start at Staples Center on Friday night, the Lakers steadily hung in, then crept back – first in the margins, then finally, overwhelmingly in the third quarter when the dam broke with a 15-0 run on the way to a 112-95 victory, the Lakers’ fifth straight.

LeBron James (21 points), of course, provided the crowning moment of the rally with a highlight-reel putback dunk. The power in his legs still belies his 36 years, but the steadiness with which he and the Lakers (11-3) handled their upstart competitors and their young stars, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, spoke to how much experience separates these teams.

“There is no saving something for later in the season,” James laughed afterward. “My body’s ready to play whatever I need to play over the course of the game. I go hard when I’m out there and I start my treatment after the game. So, I wish I could bank time.”

The league-leading Lakers can certainly bank wins.

The Pelicans were rocked in the second half on every level, scoring just 37 points after halftime while finding their sturdy first-half defense torn apart: The Lakers’ passing prowess netted them 31 assists on 39 field goals on the night, led by James’ 11. Six Lakers scored in double figures, including Anthony Davis (17 points) and Montrezl Harrell (16 points).

From the 6:40 mark of the third quarter until there were 55 seconds remaining, New Orleans couldn’t score at all. The Lakers came out of a timeout with fadeaway shots from James and center Marc Gasol, and from then it was off to the races.

It looked different than the dominant three-game road trip when the Lakers hung big early leads on the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Davis said the team might have been dragging from getting back home, where they are just 4-3.

“It can kinda wear on you a little bit and get you off on a slow start,” he said. “We overcame it tonight.”

It was a dramatically different tone from the start of the night, when the Lakers were a Davis free throw shy of their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season. They missed seven of their first 24 shots, getting just 20 points.

On the other side of the ball, they held the wrecking ball-body of Williamson (21 points) in check with double-teams in the paint. They had fewer answers for Ingram, the former Laker, who diced them up from all over the floor with jumpers and drives. He scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half.

The Lakers began to turn things around in the second quarter at the free-throw line, warming up what had been cold hands. Davis found his stroke after missing eight of his first 10 attempts from the field, and between the stripe and a few jumpers, the former Pelican scored nine of the last 14 points of the first half.

Dennis Schröder hit a banked-in floater to cut the margin to a single point at halftime, despite the fact that New Orleans shot 61 percent in the first half to the Lakers’ 40 percent. But Coach Frank Vogel said it was Schröder’s steals in the second quarter that truly gave the team the spark.

“The fight that he showed picking up full court, getting those two turnovers, really creating some havoc for their offense, really positioned us to do what we did in the second half,” Vogel said. “It’s a one-point game at halftime; it could’ve been a 10-, 15-point differential.”

The shooting gap was almost completely made up in the Lakers’ advantages in the turnover margin (plus-11 at the half) and at the free-throw line (20 Laker attempts to three for the Pelicans). The Lakers wound up with 12 fewer turnovers and 15 more made free throws in the game.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (16 points) capped a strong week returning from injury with his best shot-making performance yet. Among his four 3-pointers on the evening, the third quarter saw him nail one while falling to the court, sealing his claim as the most reliable deep threat on the team. He moved up to ninth all-time in franchise history with 423 3-pointers as a Laker.

Still, on a team shooting the NBA’s third-best percentage from 3-point range (39.6 percent), there is competition. Kyle Kuzma hit three, Alex Caruso hit three, and James hit two. James might still have a case as the best overall shooter on the team, given he’s the only one regularly allowed to pull up from the logo.

“LeBron’s always gonna be up there because he shoots a ton of them, especially when he gets hot, and starts shooting halfcourt and things like that,” Davis said. “I don’t think Coach will maybe allow Kenny to do that.”

For now, the most compelling competition remains between the Lakers themselves –not against the rest of the league.

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