Clarkson, Williams, lead Lakers past Pelicans, 126-99
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams keep scoring like this, opponents are going to have trouble matching up with Los Angeles’ second unit this season.
Clarkson scored 23 points, Williams added 21, and the Lakers won for the fifth time in six games, beating the New Orleans Pelicans 126-99 on Saturday night.
“Me and Lou are going to be real aggressive coming in. We’re trying to do a good job of leading this second group, bringing the energy, scoring the ball, pushing the pace,” Clarkson said. “Coach (Luke Walton) gave that to us. That’s our role and that’s what we’re going to do.”
D’Angelo Russell scored 22 and Nick Young added 15 points for the Lakers, who shot 55.3 percent (52 of 94) overall and made 16 of 30 3-pointers.
Combined, Lakers guards scored 84 points.
“It just shows how much firepower we’ve got and how deep we can go,” Clarkson said. “We’ve got so many options, it’s crazy.”
Anthony Davis scored 34 for New Orleans, but left the game for a pivotal stretch with lower back pain after his layup had cut Los Angeles’ lead to 63-62 in the third quarter. Davis, who crumpled to the court after his shot fell, went to the locker room and was out of the game for four-plus minutes while the Lakers went on a 14-0 run.
“It just locked up on me,” Davis said of his back. “I hate being out, so I tried to do whatever I could to come back.”
Davis added nine more points after he returned, but New Orleans never recovered, losing for the ninth time in its first 10 games and dropping to 0-5 at home.
New Orleans has been without three top players — guards Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, and forward Quincy Pondexter — so far this season. The lack of depth caused by those absences stuck out against a Lakers second unit that has demonstrated exceptional chemistry lately.
“Their bench totally dominated the game,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “We couldn’t get Lou stopped. I thought Clarkson pretty much scored at will.”
Rookie Buddy Hield scored 18 points and Langston Galloway added 12 for the Pelicans.
Young was 5 for 7 from 3-point range, while Clarkson went 4 of 6 and Russell 4 of 7.
Rookie Brandon Ingram scored 10 points for the Lakers. He left the game in the second half with what team officials said was a sprained left ankle, but Ingram said he might have returned if his team hadn’t built such a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter.
Lakers: Julius Randle had 11 rebounds to go with eight points. ... Williams entered the game as one of the top scorers in the NBA in a reserve role, averaging 15.9 points. He scored 14 in the first half, hitting six of his first 10 shots, including a 3-pointer. His 21 points tied a season high. ... Young, who entered the game 22 of 22 on free throws this season, did not attempt a foul shot — nor did any Lakers starter. ... The Lakers’ 53.3 percent shooting from 3-point range was their best since hitting 14 of 25 (56 percent) in a 111-103 win over Denver on Dec. 30, 2014.
Pelicans: Davis reached 30 points for the seventh time in 10 games this season. ... Hield reached double digits in scoring for the fourth time in six games, scoring no fewer than nine points in a game during that span and as many as 18 twice.
Walton and Gentry hugged in the hallway outside the locker rooms before the game. They also reminisced about their time as assistants on the same staff with Golden State during the 2014-15 season, when the Warriors were NBA champions. Gentry said he was not at all surprised to see Walton’s early success as a first-year head coach of a young team that won only 17 games last season.
“He’s got a great feel for the game, but I think more so than that, he’s got a great feel for people. He can relate to anyone,” Gentry said.
Gentry also alluded to a couple of Lakers players who’ve said they would “run through a wall” for Walton. “In our profession,” Gentry began, laughing as he spoke, “you’ve accomplished a lot” when an NBA player says something like that about his coach.
Lakers: Visit Minnesota on Sunday night.
Pelicans: Host Boston on Monday night.