Rui Hachimura Score 16 of his 21 points; Lakers Score 87 Points in a Spectacular First Half and Roll to a 139-122 Victory over Pelicans

AP Photo/Yannick Peterhans
Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura (28) dunks as New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — D’Angelo Russell scored 30 points, Austin Reaves added 27 and the Los Angeles Lakers rode a spectacular 87-point first half to a 139-122 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

LeBron James had 21 points and 14 assists, and Rui Hachimura scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half while the Lakers put on an offensive masterclass in their fourth victory in five games. Anthony Davis added 20 points as Los Angeles dominated on the second night of a back-to-back set, surging ahead with a 51-point second quarter and staying in front throughout the second half.

“That just shows what we can do as a team offensively,” Reaves said. “It’s just playing the game the right way. When we do that, everybody gets a better feel and gets a better rhythm and settles into it that way.”

Russell was the centerpiece in his return from a one-game injury absence, hitting six 3-pointers and adding five assists while the Lakers snapped New Orleans’ four-game winning streak.

The Lakers led 87-74 at halftime after tying a franchise record with 51 points in the second quarter, shredding New Orleans’ defense in their most prolific half of the season and the second highest-scoring first half in franchise history. With Russell’s 21 points leading the way, all five starters scored at least 12 while Los Angeles hit 11 3-pointers and 67.4% of its shots overall.

“D-Lo had it going,” Davis said. “Rui made plays. Any time we’re able to get stops in the paint, transition and play fast and share the basketball, offense starts to click and we can score 51 in a quarter.”

Zion Williamson had 30 points and nine rebounds, and Brandon Ingram added 22 points for the Pelicans, who split two games in downtown Los Angeles to begin their four-game road trip.

“We just didn’t have a physical defensive presence tonight,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “I thought we started the game well, but that second quarter got away from us. Fifty-one points, that’s a lot to overcome against a team that’s this good. They made some shots, and we helped some with a lack of physicality on their end.”

Russell sat out Thursday’s loss to Denver with left knee soreness, but he returned with another impressive effort after averaging 24.0 points per game in his previous 13 outings. Russell’s improved play in recent weeks was a primary reason for the Lakers’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline despite sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference standings.

The Lakers made no moves despite hovering around .500 all season, but they’re still seeking help on the buyout market. Spencer Dinwiddie, who was traded by Brooklyn and waived by Toronto this week, watched this game from the stands while seated next to Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

Dinwiddie, who attended Dallas’ game at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, is a Los Angeles native who could provide perimeter shooting and ball-handling for the Lakers if they can sign him. He averaged 12.6 points and 6.0 assists in 48 starts for the Nets this season.

“He’s a big guard, a shot-maker,” Davis said. “We’ve seen what he did with Brooklyn, what he did with Dallas, making big plays for them. He’s a well-established player, a vet in this league.”

Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans after he missed the second half of their win over the Clippers on Wednesday with a bruised calf.

Davis picked up his third foul in the first quarter, forcing the Lakers to alter their rotations while New Orleans put up a 39-point opening period with 16 from Ingram and 14 from Williamson.

The Lakers responded with 51 points in the second, led by 16 from Russell and 12 by Reaves.

Lakers guard Max Christie sat out after spraining his right ankle Thursday against Denver. Coach Darvin Ham also said the Lakers hope starter Cam Reddish can return after the All-Star break from his sprained ankle.