LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers hit a new low on March 27, blowing a 23-point lead to the New Orleans Pelicans and losing by a final score of 116-108 in arguably the biggest game of the season.
The Pelicans have a half-game lead over the Lakers for the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings after Sunday’s win. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Los Angeles’ 23-point meltdown is the largest blown lead in a game LeBron has suited up for the Lakers.
After the game, the King called the loss a “microcosm” of the Lakers’ putrid season.
“We haven’t been able to sustain all year and tonight was one of those instances once again,” LeBron said. “It feels like sh*t. I mean, excuse my language, but that’s what it feels like. I came in with the mindset understanding it was a playoff-type atmosphere, playoff implications and things of that nature. … It feels like a wasted opportunity, obviously, for myself and for our team. We weren’t able to get it done.”
LeBron put up 39 points, nine rebounds and five assists while shooting 14-of-27 from the field and 7-of-13 from beyond the arc. The Lakers had a 20-point lead at halftime and it appeared they were well on their way to a huge win.
However, the Pelicans outscored the Lakers 67-39 in the second half and LeBron played on a gimpy left ankle after suffering a severe sprain in the first half.
Lakers Played Terribly in Second Half
The Lakers shot 66.7% from the field and 11-of-19 on 3-pointers in the first half. LeBron had 25 points at halftime despite spraining his left ankle and Russell Westbrook put up 12 points and three assists.
Los Angeles had all the momentum entering the third quarter. However, the LakeShow gave up 41 points in the third and 26 in the fourth while scoring only 25 and 14, respectively.
“It hurts. This game hurts. This was a big game,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “But we have to regroup. We have to find a way to beat Dallas and get some wins down the stretch here. Time’s running out on us. We came out with the proper urgency for this game, but weren’t able to close it.”
Former Lakers star Brandon Ingram, who finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his first game since March 6, was proud of the way his teammates fought back against LeBron, who only had four points in the fourth quarter and looked like he couldn’t move due to his ankle injury.
Ingram: ‘Everybody Stayed Poised’
The Lakers had a four-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but the Pelicans took that for good on an Ingram pull-up jumper with 5:01 left in regulation. The small forward, who was traded by Los Angeles to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade, shot 10-of-17 from the floor in his return to the lineup.
“We were down and facing adversity in that moment when LeBron was getting everything he wanted. Everybody stayed poised,” Ingram said after the game. “We executed. Guys made some big-time plays down the stretch on the defensive end.”
LeBron and the Lakers are back in action on March 29 when they face Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. LBJ may not play since he said his ankle felt “terrible” after the Pelicans contest.