NBA regular season

Lakers drop to play-in round, to face Warriors for playoff spot

Lakers drop to play-in round, to face Warriors for playoff spot

PLAY-IN-BOUND. LeBron James and the Lakers finish the regular season as the 7th seed in the Western Conference.

Stephen Lew/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Despite beating the Pelicans in their final regular season game, the Lakers fail to avoid the Western Conference play-in tournament

LeBron James scored 25 points as the visiting Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans, 110-98, in the regular-season finale for both teams on Sunday, May 16 (Monday, May 17, Manila time).

James left the game midway through the fourth quarter, slightly favoring the injured right ankle that has sidelined him 26 games down the stretch.

Anthony Davis scored 14, Andre Drummond had 13 points and 13 rebounds, Dennis Schroeder had 12, and Kendavious Caldwell-Pope added 10 as the Lakers (42-30) won their fifth consecutive game.

But the victory was not enough for the defending NBA champions to avoid the Western Conference play-in tournament.

The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Denver Nuggets to claim the 6th seed so the 7th seed Lakers will host 8th seed the Golden State Warriors in a play-in game on Wednesday.

Willy Hernangomez had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Naji Marshall scored 18, Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 14, Eric Bledsoe had 13, Kira Lewis Jr 12, and Jaxson Hayes 10 to lead the injury-plagued Pelicans (31-41). New Orleans played its last three games without injured starters Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Steven Adams.

The Pelicans pulled within a point four times in the third quarter before Davis scored 6 straight Lakers points to help them take an 84-75 lead.

Bledsoe made a free throw before Los Angeles scored the final 7 points to increase its lead to 91-76 at the end of the quarter.

New Orleans got within 8 points early in the fourth quarter, but James responded with 5 straight points for a 98-85 lead.

The Lakers led by 12 points on three occasions before back-to-back Bledsoe three-pointers pulled the Pelicans within 36-28 at the end of the first quarter.

Los Angeles never trailed in the period as all eight players who entered the game had at least 2 points.

Wesley Matthews came off the bench to start the second quarter and became the ninth Los Angeles player to score, accounting for the Lakers’ first 8 points, which produced a 44-32 lead.

New Orleans got as close as 4 points in 4 occasions, the last when Marshall beat the buzzer with a three-pointer from near mid-court that left Los Angeles with a 63-59 halftime lead. –