Zion Williamson’s career best isn’t enough to beat LeBron James

NEW ORLEANS — LeBron James had 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame Anthony Davis’ absence and Zion Williamson’s highest-scoring game to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 122-114 on Sunday night.

Williamson finished with 35 points, but his largely productive and highlight-filled night was marred somewhat by six turnovers.

Kyle Kuzma scored 20, including a 3-pointer that put the Lakers up 113-109 with 3:40 to go. The Lakers gradually pulled away after that, aided by James’ 3 with 2:27 left.

Davis, who spent the first seven of his eight seasons with New Orleans, sat out with a sore right knee, one night after playing in the Lakers’ 105-88 loss at Memphis. His injury did not appear too serious; he was on the bench in street clothes and routinely reacted to the action on the court by springing out of his seat and standing on the sideline.

Zion Williamson goes to the basketball while being guarded by LeBron James.AP

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 and JaVale McGee asserted himself inside with six blocked shots and eight points, including his layup in the final minute that made it 120-112.

Lonzo Ball had 19 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for New Orleans, and Derrick Favors added 12 points and 14 rebounds. But the Pelicans were done in by poor 3-point shooting, going 7 of 33.

The opening half was a competitive, crowd-pleasing affair in which James scored 19 and Williamson 17.

Moments after Williamson had cut to the hoop for a one-handed stuff, James pulled up from 35 feet for a 3 that tied it at 61.

Caldwell-Pope’s driving finger roll gave Los Angeles a 63-61 edge at halftime, and the Lakers widened their lead with a strong start to the third quarter.

Danny Green hit a 3, Kuzma added a layup, McGee tipped in Kuzma’s missed floater and Kuzma hit two free throws to make it 74-66.

New Orleans began to close the gap again when Williamson spun free from Kuzma for a back-door dunk of Jrue Holiday’s alley-oop pass.

Williamson added free throws and a driving layup before Favors’ dunk and Ball’s 3 pulled the Pelicans back into a tie at 77. The game remained close the rest of the period, which ended with New Orleans holding a 95-93 lead after Caldwell-Pope’s free throws.

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