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Lakers rout Pelicans to lock up 8-seed and a play-in tournament rematch with New Orleans

LeBron James had 28 points, 17 assists, 11 rebounds and five steals, and the Los Angeles Lakers claimed the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a 124-108 victory over New Orleans on Sunday that dropped the Pelicans out of a coveted top-six seeding.

Anthony Davis had 30 points and 11 rebounds against the team that made him the first overall NBA draft choice in 2012 to help set up a rematch on Tuesday night in the same arena in the conference play-in. But Davis asked out of the game in the final minutes and walked gingerly back to the locker room.

James’ triple-double was his fifth this season and his playmaking helped spearhead a dominant performance in the paint, where Los Angeles outscored New Orleans 68-42.

Austin Reaves scored 20 points and D’Angelo Russell scored 19 for the Lakers, who won eight of their final 11 regular-season games.

CJ McCollum scored 23 for the Pelicans, who were coming off a four-game road winning streak and welcomed high-scoring wing Brandon Ingram back into the lineup, only to fall flat at home while trying to lock up a No. 6 seed and avoid the play-in.

Instead, the matchup was reminiscent of the NBA In-Season Tournament final in Las Vegas in December, when the Lakers embarrassed the Pelicans 133-89.

Ingram, who’d missed the previous 12 games with a left knee contusion, scored 13 points. Zion Williamson had 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Herb Jones added 18 points for New Orleans.

After Ingram’s 3 pulled the Pelicans to 28-24 at the first-quarter horn, the Lakers went to the foul line because of an apparent officiating error.

Official John Goble announced that Los Angeles mistakenly was not granted free throws on the Pelicans’ second foul in the last two minutes of the period. Prince made both, which officially took place with no time left.

The Lakers then opened the second quarter with Prince’s driving layup to make it 32-24. A reverse layup by James then sparked a 9-0 run to make it 41-26.

While New Orleans was missing 14 of its first 19 from deep, the Lakers were snagging long rebounds and converting in transition.

Reaves’ 3-pointer and his breakaway dunk gave the Lakers their first 20-point lead at 53-33 halfway through the second quarter.

Another Reaves 3 made it 70-53, a score that stood at the halftime after James’ missed breakaway dunk attempt.

The Lakers opened the third period with a 3 by Reaves, two more from deep by Russell and a cutting dunk by Davis that made it 83-57.

Another Russell 3 gave the Lakers their largest lead at 91-59.

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It’s a higher-stakes rematch in the same arena on Tuesday night, with the winner capturing the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs, while the loser hosts another play-in game against the winner of a matchup between the ninth-seeded Sacramento Kings and 10th-seeded Golden State Warriors.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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