World Peace carries Lakers to 5th win in row
(TSX / STATS) -- LOS ANGELES -- In what was possibly his last game at Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Metta World Peace delivered in impressive fashion.
World Peace scored a club-high 18 points, all in the second half, and the Lakers extended their winning streak to five games with a 108-96 victory over the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
"It was a great feeling," said World Peace, who also had four steals. "I've had a long career, and for that to end at the top -- All-Star, sixth in MVP voting one year, would've won it the year I got suspended, Defensive Player of the Year, All-Defensive first team, al-third team, All-NBA, everything -- but this is the best feeling."
Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram contributed 15 points apiece for the Lakers (26-55), who won five straight for the first time since the end of the 2012-13 regular season. David Nwaba added 14 points for Los Angeles.
However, all of the postgame conversation centered on World Peace.
"It was very fun just to see him go out there and compete," Ingram said. "I'm not sure if this is his last home game here, but just to see him go out there and compete and end it on a good note, it's special to get a win tonight. It's good to see for Metta."
The Pelicans played without DeMarcus Cousins (right Achilles tendinitis) and Anthony Davis (left knee soreness). Cheick Diallo came off the bench to score 19 points and grab 11 rebounds for the Pelicans (33-48), who lost their fifth consecutive contest. Alexis Ajinca and Jrue Holiday each chipped in 14 points.
"I guess I played all right, but at the end of the day, if you lose it doesn't matter how you play, especially when you lose by (12). It's annoying," said Ajinca, who also had eight rebounds.
New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry appeared to be as annoyed as any of the Pelicans.
"There is zero to take away (from the loss)," Gentry said. "Unless you want to count some of the B.S. that happened at the end where guys get baskets and end up with great numbers. But at the end of the day, no, we didn't play at all. We didn't play. Concentration wasn't there."
D'Angelo Russell missed the game to be with family in Louisville, Ky., where he is mourning the death of his grandmother. World Peace filled in with his best game this season, received a standing ovation and kept fans roaring their approval each time he touched the ball.
World Peace sparked a third-quarter run that allowed the Lakers to increase their four-point halftime lead to as much as 16. They also got a crowd-pleasing dunk near the end of the quarter from Ingram over Diallo, helping Los Angeles take an 85-73 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
"I think it was maybe the first time I've gotten emotional like that," said Ingram, who screamed and glared at Diallo. "I think it was a good play for us to end with in the third quarter and definitely excited about it."
In the fourth quarter, World Peace scored 11 points, nine of them coming from 3-point range.
"We all gave each other energy collectively, it wasn't just me," World Peace said. "Everybody does well, works hard and guys are building the confidence up. It was everybody."
The Lakers led 57-53 at the break. Both teams shot 51.2 percent from the floor in the first half. For the game, the Lakers made 47.7 percent of their shots to 46.8 for the Pelicans.
The win guaranteed the Lakers will finish ahead of the Phoenix Suns (24-58) in the race to avoid the worst mark in the Western Conference.
NOTES: Lakers coach Luke Walton offered high praise for F Metta World Peace, who isn't expected to return to the club next season. The 36-year-old Walton and 37-year-old Peace were teammates on the Lakers' 2010 championship team. "His value is the way he conducts himself," Walton said. "When you have a team full of young men like we do, it's important to put some good role models around them. A lot of these guys for the first time are living in a city they're not from so it's important to have some positive vets to show them how to have longevity in this league, and Metta does that." ... Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton sat courtside. ... Both teams close their seasons on the road Wednesday. The Pelicans will play at the Portland Trail Blazers while the Lakers will visit the Golden State Warriors.
Updated April 12, 2017
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