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.
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.