Lakers Drop 126 Points In Rout Over Pelicans

Coming off a 17-65 season which saw the Lakers compile their worst record in franchise history, Julius Randle said that the biggest difference with this year’s team is that they “expect to win.” That certainly looked like the case in New Orleans, as Los Angeles improved to 6-4 by overpowering the Pelicans, 126-99.

Despite only attempting seven free throws on the night, the Lakers racked up their massive scoring total by shooting 55.3 percent from the field, including a scorching 16-of-30 from 3-point range.

Nick Young led the barrage from deep with five 3-pointers while D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson each followed with four. The Lakers earned several open looks off consistently fluid ball movement, as they amassed 36 assists — their most since April 8, 2014.

“We have so many weapons out there that can score the ball (from positions) one through five on the court,” Julius Randle said. “It makes it really tough for a team to sit there and say they’re gonna load up. We’re moving the ball, cutting, getting stops, getting out in transition.”

Randle was the focal point of L.A.’s passing, as he tallied eight points, 11 rebounds and a team-high eight assists. Head coach Luke Walton said the 21-year-old power forward is “really figuring out that he can be a special playmaker for his position,” and called his playmaking abilities key for the team’s hot start.

“I was just trying to get my guys involved,” Randle said. “It makes it easier on myself. When the ball’s moving, it’s contagious. It makes good shots turn into great shots.”

While Randle was dishing it out, several other Lakers were cashing in.

Clarkson led the way with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Russell pitched in 22 points and six assists, and Lou Williams added 21 points including 14 in the second quarter alone.

Clarkson and Williams shined for a blistering bench unit that hung up 73 points.

On the other end, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis put in his typically monstrous effort with 34 points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes, but the Lakers made a critical run when he briefly checked out due to injury.

The Lakers led by just one early in the third after a Davis layup, but he tweaked his back on the non-contact play and had to sit out the next six minutes.

The Lakers took full advantage, reeling off 14 unanswered points, as Russell and Timofey Mozgov took advantage of Davis’ absence in the paint with layups, and Young splashed back-to-back triples.

“He was dominating us a little bit,” Russell said. “When he went out, we tried to make another run. He came back in and I thought it was a little too late (for them to come back).”

The explosion built the Lakers’ lead up to 77-62 and it only got worse from there for New Orleans (1-9), despite Davis’ return.

L.A. piled up 42 points in the fourth quarter alone by shooting 17-of-23, with Clarkson scoring 13 points in the final period and Russell adding a dozen.

“Learning to believe in yourselves and learning to close out ball games is not easy,” Walton said. “It’s pretty impressive this group of guys is starting to figure that out.”

Now, having won five of their last six games, the Lakers are unquestionably on a roll, but Walton cautions that his team needs to focus on the minutiae of simply getting better before getting lost in the hope of making the postseason.

“If you start focusing on the playoffs and not those little things, we won’t be close to the playoffs by the end of the year,” he said.

Brandon Ingram’s status for Sunday’s game in Minnesota is uncertain after rolling his ankle in the fourth quarter. … The Lakers’ total was their most in a game with single-digit free throw attempts since scoring 126 against the San Diego Clippers on March 8, 1980. … L.A. scored 71 points in the second half. … New Orleans' Buddy Hield had 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting. … A sold-out crowd of 17,138 packed Smoothie King Center.