Lakers cruise past Pelicans, into tournament final

Dec 7, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) in the NBA In Season Tournament Semifinal at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James recorded 30 points and eight assists to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 133-89 semifinal victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night in Las Vegas to reach the championship game of the NBA’s in-season tournament.

The Lakers will face the Indiana Pacers in Saturday’s title game. The Pacers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 128-119 in Thursday’s other semifinal.

Austin Reaves had 17 points and seven assists, and Anthony Davis added 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who won for the 11th time in their past 15 games.

James made all four of his attempts from beyond the arc while finishing 9 of 12 overall. He played just 23 minutes and sat out the final quarter.

Trey Murphy III scored 14 points and Zion Williamson added 13 for the Pelicans. Herbert Jones added 10 points and seven rebounds as New Orleans lost for the fourth time in its past seven games.

Brandon Ingram had just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting for the Pelicans. New Orleans hit 35.8 percent of its shots and was 7-of-31 from behind the arc.

Taurean Prince scored 15 points, D’Angelo Russell had 14 and Rui Hachimura added 12 for the Lakers, who made 54.7 percent of their shots and 17 of 35 from 3-point range.

James scored 21 points in the first half as Los Angeles led 67-54 at the break.

James scored only three points in the first quarter before scoring 18 in the second.

James scored all the Lakers’ points during an 11-3 spurt to open the second quarter. He knocked down three 3-pointers and finished his personal run with a layup that gave Los Angeles a 40-33 lead with 9:23 remaining in the half.

The Pelicans later moved within 53-50 on a 3-pointer by Jonas Valanciunas with 3:44 remaining before Los Angeles finished the half with a 14-4 burst. Prince drained a 3-pointer with 1:05 left to account for the 13-point halftime cushion.

Los Angeles then outscored the Pelicans 43-17 in the third quarter to turn it into a laugher.

James buried a 3-pointer to start a 14-0 run as Los Angeles held a 90-60 advantage with 5:53 left in the period.

Reaves made two free throws with 6.1 seconds left as the Lakers took a 110-71 lead into the final stanza and cruised to the finish.

–Field Level Media

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