Basketball

Pelicans' Ingram rampant as depleted LA Lakers lose three in a row

Brandon Ingram scored 36 points as the New Orleans Pelicans took full advantage of LeBron James' absence to pummel the Los Angeles Lakers 128-111 yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Lakers were rocked on Saturday by an injury to James which has left the four-time NBA champion facing several weeks on the sidelines.

With Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol already out injured, the depleted Lakers have now lost three consecutive games to fall to fourth place in the Western Conference standings at 28-16.

The Pelicans, meanwhile, remain in the hunt for a play-off berth after a win that sees them improve to 19-24.

Their superior firepower comfortably overwhelmed the Lakers, with Zion Williamson complementing Ingram's display with a 27-point effort at New Orleans' Smoothie King Center.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 18 points, while Kira Lewis Jr (16), Jaxson Hayes (15) and Steven Adams (12) also weighed in with double-digit contributions.

Montrezl Harrell led the Lakers scoring with 18 points, with Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris adding 16 points apiece for the reigning NBA champions.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said his team must improve offensively in the absence of James and Davis, but insisted the squad could overcome their absence.

"Getting us organised offensively is probably my top priority right now," Vogel said.

"We're staying positive. We've got a great belief in this group that even with LeBron and AD out, we can win games down this stretch and that there'll be a silver lining at the end of it."

At the AmericanAirlines Arena, Devin Booker scored 23 points and Deandre Ayton added a double-double as the Phoenix Suns extended their winning streak to three games with a 110-100 road win over the Miami Heat.

The Suns are now in second spot behind Western Conference leaders Utah Jazz after improving to 29-13.

Meanwhile, fifth-placed Denver Nuggets are closing in on the Lakers after a 110-99 win over the Orlando Magic in Florida.

Serbian international Nikola Jokic was once again the star man for Denver, delivering another MVP-calibre performance with a triple-double featuring 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

In Portland, James Harden brushed off the absence of Brooklyn Nets teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to lead the Nets to a 116-112 victory.

Harden scored 25 points and had 17 assists as the Nets improved to 30-14 to remain hot on the heels of Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia 76ers, who defeated the Golden State Warriors 108-98 in San Francisco. - AFP

Basketball