LOS ANGELES (AP) Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans inched closer to a possible playoff berth with a resounding victory over a team they’ve trounced all season.
Davis scored 20 points and the Pelicans routed the lottery-bound Los Angeles Lakers 113-92 on Wednesday night.
New Orleans’ third straight victory, coupled with Oklahoma City’s 135-131 loss to Dallas, brought the Pelicans within 1 1/2 games of the Thunder for eighth place in the Western Conference and completed a four-game season sweep of Los Angeles.
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Three of New Orleans’ next four games are against Western Conference teams in first place: Portland, Golden State and Memphis. The Grizzlies are tied with Houston for the top spot in the Southwest Division.
”We want to be in that spot, but we know we have to take it one game at a time,” said Davis, who averaged 24.1 points in four games against the Lakers this season. ”We’ve got a tough Sacramento team coming up, and we’ve got to focus on that game. We can’t look ahead. When you start jumping ahead of yourself, you start getting out of control and losing games.”
Six players scored in double digits for New Orleans, including Norris Cole with 17 off the bench. Reserve forward Ryan Anderson played for the first time since Feb. 21, getting 17 points in 22 minutes after missing 18 games because of a sprained right knee. His teammates were 11-7 during his absence.
”I didn’t want to be a hindrance,” Anderson said. ”It just felt really good to be back out there. I think that comfort level just happens after a few plays – and after that first dunk, I felt really confident about my leg.”
Jordan Clarkson had 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Lakers, who dropped to 11-25 at home and 20-53 overall. Jeremy Lin scored 10 points in 28 minutes after sitting out two games with an upper-respiratory infection.
”I feel OK,” Lin said. ”After some time off, I am trying to get myself and my body ready. Tonight I just didn’t have that much explosiveness. I’m still fighting, and it’s still lingering. This thing’s annoying.”
The Pelicans increased a 10-point lead to 81-61 with a 13-4 run triggered by Davis’ alley-oop dunk and capped by Eric Gordon’s 3-pointer with 5:25 left in the third quarter. Los Angeles got no closer than 17 in the fourth after Cole’s 3-pointer gave New Orleans its biggest lead, 95-70, with 10:50 to play.
”We talked about this being a huge game for us. We didn’t want to overlook that team because we played so well on the road. So we had to take care of our business,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. ”We were a bit lax the way we started, but after that, our guys to a man got it together and we started playing better defense. We had 31 assists and only seven turnovers. That’s a big deal for us.”
The Lakers shot 63.2 percent in the first quarter, but New Orleans led 60-49 at halftime with the help of Anderson’s back-to-back 3s and Tyreke Evans’ buzzer-beating layup in the final 1:10 of the second quarter.
”Getting Ryan back was huge,” Davis said. ”He brings another dimension to our team. We really missed him.”
The Lakers have been swept in a season series of four or more games by three teams in 2014-15, including Phoenix and Memphis. In the previous 20 seasons, only four clubs did that to them – the Clippers (2012-13), Suns (2004-05), San Antonio (2004-05) and Oklahoma City (2000-01).
”I know that they have much more firepower than we do offensively – and I knew that if that trend continued, it was going to be a long night,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. ”Their guys did a good job of spacing and cutting to the basket.”
Jabari Brown, signed to a multiyear contract Wednesday after his second 10-day contract expired, finished with six points as the first player off the Lakers’ bench.
Pelicans: This is the Pelicans’ second season since changing their nickname. They were 0-11 against the Lakers during their last three seasons as the Hornets, but have won six of seven meetings since. … Evans had 16 points and eight assists.
Lakers: They are 0-8 at home this season against Southwest Division clubs, and 0-15 under those circumstances since beating the Pelicans 116-95 on Nov. 12, 2013. … Injured star Kobe Bryant took his seat on the Lakers’ bench midway through the first quarter. … Scott is two losses from having the worst first season of any Lakers coach in the franchise’s 67-year history. They were 27-55 last season under Mike D’Antoni.