New Orleans Pelicans Zion Williamson speaks to the media during a press conference after the NBA Basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022 in New Orleans, La. Williamson had a career high 43 points in the 119-118 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Aimee Cronan/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – thegazebogazette@gmail.com or hdawkins@supertalk.fm

Capping off a somewhat inconsistent December, the New Orleans Pelicans found a way to take down the Los Angeles Lakers during the last game of the calendar year.

The Pelicans (19-14) put on a shooting clinic on Sunday, hitting over half their shots from beyond the arc while holding the Lakers (17-17) to 47% from the field.

Revenge from the IST

The only other time these two teams had played was on Dec. 7 in the new NBA In-Season Tournament (IST) when Los Angeles embarrassed New Orleans in the semifinal round, winning 133-89. The Lakers then went on to beat the Indiana Pacers in the championship.

Lebron James scored 34 points and former Pelican Anthony Davis added 20 points and 10 rebounds, but the two stars didn’t get enough help as the Pelicans did a good job of minimalizing the Lakers’ supporting cast this time around.

“We wanted to redeem ourselves from the last game and have a better performance against a team we might face down the line,” New Orleans head coach Willie Green said, hinting at the two teams possibly meeting in the playoffs. “It’s a blessing to be able to coach a group of men who leave it all out on the floor. Thought it was great on our part to sustain the improvements we wanted to make.”

Los Angeles has now lost seven of its last nine while the Pelicans finished the month of December at a 9-5 mark and a two-game winning streak.

Highlights of the game

With guard C.J. McCollum hitting five threes, forward Zion Williamson having two monster dunks, and the Pelicans producing a season-high 42 points in the first quarter, the team jumped out to 74-57 halftime lead and never let go.

All in all, New Orleans outrebounded the Lakers 33-26 and were able to share the ball much more efficiently than Lebron and company, totaling 33 assists in comparison to Los Angeles’ 26. The Pelicans’ big three of McCollum, Williamson, and Brandon Ingram each contributed more than 20 points, but to the coaches’ appreciation, each finished near the double-digit mark in assists.

The Pelicans also welcomed a stellar performance from Jose Alvarado. The backup point guard may be considered the player of the game for his consistence presence on defense. He finished with four steals – two of which came against James – and two blocks.

Next up

New Orleans will be back in action on Tuesday when the team hosts the Brooklyn Nets (15-18). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT and can be watched through NBA League Pass.