Lakers clinch 8th seed after blowout victory over Pelicans

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
The Lakers finish the regular season with a 47-35 record and will now play the Pelicans to enter the NBA Playoffs as the No. 7 seed.

NEW ORLEANS —The Los Angeles Lakers decided to play like it was the playoffs Sunday.

The Lakers made their first five shots, broke away in the second quarter and never looked back in a 124-108 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in the final regular-season game.

The win gave the Lakers the eighth spot in the Western Conference. With the Suns defeating the Timberwolves, that dropped the Pelicans to the seventh seed, setting up another meeting between the Lakers and Pelicans in the play-in game Tuesday in New Orleans.

The winner will go to the playoffs and meet No. 2 seed Denver Nuggets, the NBA’s defending champions.

LA dominated New Orleans in the paint. It was almost like a lay-up line they scored 50 of their 68 paint points in the first half.

Los Angeles (47-35) also bottled up Zion Williamson and limited him to 4 of 13 shooting and 12 points. The Lakers forced the Pelicans into 19 turnovers while giving away the ball 14 times themselves.

LeBron James set the tone with his distributing, dishing out eight assists in the first quarter. The Pelicans kept the game close early with some three-point shooting, including Brandon Ingram’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 28-24.

But the Lakers, who have won 11 of their past 14 games, exploded with a 42-point second quarter. Los Angeles led by as many as 32 points and was really never in danger of losing.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 30 points and 11 rebounds. But his back seemed to tighten up in the fourth quarter.

James accounted for 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 17 assists to go along with 5 steals. Austin Reaves added 20 points while D’Angelo Russell snapped out of his slump with 19 points and five 3-pointers.

James reached yet another milestone in his storied career:

CJ McCollum scored 25 points for the Pelicans while Herb Jones went for 18. Brandon Ingram returned to action after missing the last 12 games and had 13 points.