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Lakers beat Pelicans in Play-In Tournament, will meet defending champion Denver Nuggets in first round of Western Conference Playoffs

For the second straight season, the Los Angeles Lakers have survived the NBA’s Play-In Tournament and secured the seven-seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.

LeBron James scored 23 points and the Lakers held on to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106 to advance to the first round of the NBA Playoffs where they will meet the defending champion Denver Nuggets in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals.

Anthony Davis had 20 points and 15 rebounds against his former team, as the Lakers defeated the Pelicans on their home court for the second consecutive game.

The Lakers have won six straight games on the road and the Pelicans have lost six straight at home.

After trailing by 10 points early in the second quarter, the Lakers went on an 11-0 run to take the lead. They dominated the second and third quarters, leading by as many as 18 points before New Orleans rallied late in the fourth quarter.

Led by Zion Williamson’s 40 points, the Pelicans tied the Lakers with just over a minute remaining in the game. But Williamson appeared to get injured down the stretch and headed to the locker room shortly thereafter with an undisclosed injury.

However, D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers’ new single-season three-point record holder, hit a corner three that put the Lakers up by four, forcing the Pelicans to foul and play the free-throw game in the waning seconds.

But Davis and Anthony Reaves stepped up to the line and sank four straight free throws to seal the victory and the rematch with the reigning NBA champions.

All five Lakers’ starters scored in double-figures. Gabe Vincent, still getting back into game shape after missing most of the season with a knee injury scored nine big points off the bench.

Pelicans’ star C.J. McCollum was held to just nine points on 4-of-15 shooting. All-Star and former Laker Brandon Ingram was held to just 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting and was benched for the final five minutes of the game.

The victory earned the Lakers the seventh seed in the Western Conference Playoffs where they will face off with two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets have won eight straight games over the Lakers, including a four-game sweep in the Western Conference Finals last May.

“We’re extremely excited for the opportunity [of playing the Nuggets],” said Lakers’ head coach Darvin Ham after the game. “It’s back to zero-zero. Obviously, they’ve had a ton of success against us, but there’s always a new day.”

Game 1 of that series is scheduled for Saturday, April 20th at 5:30PM PT on ABC.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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