Lakers book playoff date with Nuggets; Warriors eliminated

Agence France-Presse
Lakers book playoff date with Nuggets; Warriors eliminated
LeBron James.
STAR / File

LOS ANGELES – LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers held off a furious late rally to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106 on Tuesday and book a first-round NBA playoff clash with the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

Four-time NBA champion James scored 23 points with nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals to lead the Lakers in the play-in game victory that secured the seventh seed in the Western Conference.

The Pelicans, rocked by a late injury to star forward Zion Williamson, will have another chance to advance on Friday when they take on the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings ended the Golden State Warriors’ playoff aspirations with a resounding 118-94 victory in the second Western Conference play-in game.

At 39, James is in the playoffs for the 17th time in 21 seasons. He’ll get another shot at Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, who swept the Lakers in the Western Conference finals on their way to the title last season.

Williamson scored 40 points and keyed the Pelicans’ rally from an 18-point third-quarter deficit.

His alley-oop dunk tied it at 93-93 but after he drove for a basket that made it 95-95 with 3:19 remaining, Williamson grimaced in pain and was soon out of the game, throwing a towel in disgust as he headed to the locker room for good.

The Pelicans kept the pressure on. They tied it twice more, but D’Angelo Russell’s three-pointer with 51.3 seconds remaining pushed the Lakers lead to four points and Los Angeles, with a timely rebound and a pair of free throws from Anthony Davis, held on for the win.

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