Sports

Walton has young Lakers believing

New coach has Los Angeles purring in the early throes of the post-Kobe era

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS 99

LOS ANGELES 
LAKERS 126

Young as they are, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to surprise after another overpowering win, mowing down the struggling New Orleans Pelicans 126-99 yesterday morning (Singapore time) in a reunion for coaches Luke Walton and Alvin Gentry.

Walton and Gentry were both assistants on Steve Kerr's staff at Golden State when the Warriors won the 2015 NBA title.

And Gentry isn't surprised that Walton has the Lakers, demoralised after a franchise worst 17-65 season and learning to live without retired superstar Kobe Bryant, playing buoyant basketball.

"He can relate to anyone," Gentry said of Walton, who took the Lakers helm this season.

"If you're around him for a whole season, you see how he deals with people, see how much basketball knowledge that he has.

NO SURPRISE

"It doesn't surprise me what they're doing. He'll get the most out of any player he has.

"I know that one of the young guys said, 'I'll take a bullet for him.'

"In our profession," he added, with a laugh, "If a player's willing to take a bullet for you, you've accomplished a lot."

The Lakers improved their record to 6-4 and for the first time since the end of the 2012/13 season they have been at least two games above .500.

They notched their fifth win in six games with 23 points from Jordan Clarkson, 22 from D'Angelo Russell and 21 from Lou Williams, who is the league's leading scorer off the bench.

They took full advantage of an injury scare to Pelicans star Anthony Davis, who had scored 13 straight points as New Orleans trimmed the lead to 63-62 when he came down from a lay-up clutching his back in agony.

Davis went to the locker room, and while he was gone, the Lakers out-scored the Pelicans 16-4 to build a 79-64 lead.

Davis returned six minutes later, but even his game-high 34 points - to go with eight rebounds and two blocked shots - weren't enough.

Davis became the ninth player in league history to score 300 points and grab 100 rebounds in his first 10 games of a season.

He joined David Robinson and Shaquille O'Neal as the only players to average 30 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in the first 10 games - but his Pelicans still fell to 1-9.

New Orleans will try to regroup before hosting Boston tomorrow morning, while the Lakers will face the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.

Walton said his players are gaining in confidence with every win but said they remain a work in progress.

"Learning to believe in yourselves and learning to close out ball games is not easy," he said.

"This group of guys is starting to figure that out." - AFP.

OTHER RESULTS

Indiana 99 Boston 105, Toronto 118 NY Knicks 107, Atlanta 117 Philadelphia 96, Chicago 106 Washington 95, Houston 100 San Antonio 106, Minnesota 105 LA Clippers 119, Miami 91 Utah 102, Milwaukee 106 Memphis 96, Denver 95 Detroit 106, Phoenix 104 Brooklyn 122.

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