On Tuesday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 95-91, to move to 9-31 on the season with Lou Williams playing hero for the home team with 19 points, eight assists and four rebounds in the victory.
The Lakers' usual protagonist, Kobe Bryant, left the game in the second quarter and did not return due to a sore right Achilles tendon after a strained right Achilles held the 37-year-old out of Sunday's loss to the Utah Jazz. In total, Bryant played 16 minutes, scored seven points and made three of his nine shot attempts, including all five of his shots from beyond the three-point line.
"It was a gutsy win for us," Lakers coach Byron Scott said after the game.
Tuesday's contest did not flatter the masses, as the Lakers shot 36.8 percent and pulled out the victory largely due to a major discrepancy at the free throw line. The Lakers made 25 foul shots compared to only nine free throws made by the Pelicans. As a note, Pelicans forward Anthony Davis sat out the game.
In the first quarter, the Lakers only scored 15 points. By halftime, LA was shooting only 29.3 percent but somehow only trailed by three points. While the Lakers may still sit at the bottom of the Western Conference, the Pelicans are only two wins away and second from the bottom. And it showed.
Eventually, the Lakers found the target at a higher clip. In the second half, the Lakers made 43.5 from the field and hit 6-17 from three-point range. In contrast, LA missed all 12 of their long range attempts in the first half.
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers managed to tie the game at 71-71 with about 10 minutes remaining. Shortly after, forward Brandon Bass left the game after rolling his ankle, and the Pelicans took advantage of Roy Hibbert's return by opening up a seven-point lead. At that stage, Scott opted to match lineups and go small.
"I just wanted to get that experience of Lou (Williams) coming in there and understanding how to settle our guys down, and I thought he did a good job of that," Scott said. And being able to make big shots is always helpful, and that's what (Williams) has been able to do for us this year."
The Lakers finished the game with Williams, Jordan Clarkson, Anthony Brown, Julius Randle and Larry Nance. Williams served as the veteran to guide the crew of young players which featured Clarkson acting as the second-most experienced player in only his second season in the NBA.
With the unit of fresh faced kids and Williams acting as chaperone, the Lakers pulled out a 95-91 victory. Next, the team flies to Oakland to play the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.