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Lakers outlast Pelicans to clinch No. 7 seed, will face Nuggets in first round

LeBron James has 23 points, Anthony Davis has 20 and D’Angelo Russell hits a critical 3-pointer late as the Lakers hold on for a 110-106 play-in victory. Game 1 against the Nuggets is Saturday night in Denver.

Lakers star LeBron James shoots over New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr., left, during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. James had 23 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, and the Lakers secured the No. 7 seed with a 110-106 victory. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Lakers star LeBron James shoots over New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr., left, during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. James had 23 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, and the Lakers secured the No. 7 seed with a 110-106 victory. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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  • Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell reacts after making a 3-point shot...

    Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell reacts after making a 3-point shot during the second half of their play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night in New Orleans. The Lakers won, 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) battles near the basket with...

    Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) battles near the basket with New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson dunks in front of...

    New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson dunks in front of Lakers forwards Taurean Prince, back left, and LeBron James during the first half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers star LeBron James goes to the basket between New...

    Lakers star LeBron James goes to the basket between New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, guard CJ McCollum (3) and forward Herbert Jones, left, in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. dunks in front...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. dunks in front of Lakers forward Rui Hachimura during the first half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) tries to...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) tries to slam dunk but misses, ahead of Lakers forward Rui Hachimura in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star LeBron James posts up against the New Orleans...

    Lakers star LeBron James posts up against the New Orleans Pelicans’ Jose Alvarado during the first half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) reacts after making...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) reacts after making a 3-point basket during the first half of their play-in tournament game against the Lakers on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) and guard Trey...

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) and guard Trey Murphy III battle for a rebound with Lakers forward Rui Hachimura in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) shoots as Lakers...

    New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) shoots as Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) defends in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum shoots next to Lakers...

    New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum shoots next to Lakers forward Rui Hachimura during the first half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson shoots as Lakers forward...

    New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson shoots as Lakers forward Rui Hachimura defends during the first half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers head coach Darvin Ham calls out from the bench...

    Lakers head coach Darvin Ham calls out from the bench in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star LeBron James goes to the basket in the...

    Lakers star LeBron James goes to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the basket as Lakers forwards Anthony Davis, bottom left, and Taurean Prince in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans...

    Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones goes to the basket...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones goes to the basket in front of Lakers forward LeBron James in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) goes to the basket against...

    Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) goes to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) reacts to an official in...

    Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) reacts to an official in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) passes the bal between New...

    Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) passes the bal between New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) and forward Brandon Ingram (14) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers center Jaxson Hayes, left, celebrates during the first half...

    Lakers center Jaxson Hayes, left, celebrates during the first half of their play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones goes to the basket...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones goes to the basket against Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas shoots as Lakers star...

    New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas shoots as Lakers star Anthony Davis defends during the first half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson goes to the basket...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson goes to the basket between Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) and forward LeBron James in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans...

    Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson drives against Lakers forwards...

    New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson drives against Lakers forwards Taurean Prince, left, and LeBron James during the first half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers guard Gabe Vincent (7) shoots as New Orleans Pelicans...

    Lakers guard Gabe Vincent (7) shoots as New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado defends during the second half of their play-in game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. Vincent had nine points and four rebounds in 18 minutes in a 110-106 win. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • The New Orleans Pelicans’ Trey Murphy III drives as Lakers...

    The New Orleans Pelicans’ Trey Murphy III drives as Lakers guard Austin Reaves defends during the first half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans...

    Lakers guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the basket against Lakers forward Anthony Davis and forward Taurean Prince in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) drives to the basket against...

    Lakers guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the basket between Lakers forward Rui Hachimura and forward Anthony Davis (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Anthony Davis battles under the basket between New...

    Lakers forward Anthony Davis battles under the basket between New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) and guard Trey Murphy III in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) pulls down a...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) pulls down a rebound next to Lakers forward Rui Hachimura (28) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell celebrates a basket during the first...

    Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell celebrates a basket during the first half of their play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) shoots against Lakers...

    New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) shoots against Lakers forward Anthony Davis in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Taurean Prince (12) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans...

    Lakers forward Taurean Prince (12) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III (25) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram shoots as Lakers star...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram shoots as Lakers star Anthony Davis defends during the first half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers coach Darvin Ham reacts on the sideline during the...

    Lakers coach Darvin Ham reacts on the sideline during the first half of their play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the basket over Lakers forward LeBron James (23) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Rui Hachimura celebrates a basket during the second...

    Lakers forward Rui Hachimura celebrates a basket during the second half of their play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) battles near the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) battles near the basket with Lakers guard Austin Reaves, guard D’Angelo Russell (1) and forward Anthony Davis (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) slam dunks over...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) slam dunks over Lakers forward LeBron James (23) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star Anthony Davis drives against New Orleans Pelicans center...

    Lakers star Anthony Davis drives against New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers star LeBron James shoots against New Orleans Pelicans forward...

    Lakers star LeBron James shoots against New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star LeBron James reacts late in the second half...

    Lakers star LeBron James reacts late in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the basket against Lakers guard Austin Reaves in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star Anthony Davis drives as New Orleans Pelicans forward...

    Lakers star Anthony Davis drives as New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. defends during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) and Lakers forward...

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) and Lakers forward Rui Hachimura battle for a rebound in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Rui Hachimura (28) goes to the basket against...

    Lakers forward Rui Hachimura (28) goes to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the basket against Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) and forward Taurean Prince (12) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star LeBron James drives as New Orleans Pelicans forward...

    Lakers star LeBron James drives as New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram defends during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) drives to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) drives to the basket against Lakers forward Rui Hachimura in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans...

    Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers guard Austin Reaves drives as the New Orleans Pelicans’...

    Lakers guard Austin Reaves drives as the New Orleans Pelicans’ Jose Alvarado defends during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado goes to the basket...

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado goes to the basket against Lakers guard Austin Reaves (15) and forward Anthony Davis (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado reacts after crashing to...

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado reacts after crashing to the floor in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the Lakers Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) is helped up...

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) is helped up by guard Trey Murphy III, left, and forward Brandon Ingram after crashing to the floor in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the Lakers against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star Anthony Davis shoots over the New Orleans Pelicans’...

    Lakers star Anthony Davis shoots over the New Orleans Pelicans’ Larry Nance Jr. (22) during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers forward Taurean Prince (12) drives to the basket under...

    Lakers forward Taurean Prince (12) drives to the basket under pressure from New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones and guard CJ McCollum (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the basket ahead of Lakers forward Anthony Davis in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans head coach WIllie Green calls out from...

    New Orleans Pelicans head coach WIllie Green calls out from the bench in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the Lakers, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans...

    Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson (1) reacts after going...

    New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson (1) reacts after going for a loose ball with Lakers star Anthony Davis, bottom, during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) goes to the basket over Lakers forward Rui Hachimura (28) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star Anthony Davis shoots as New Orleans Pelicans forward...

    Lakers star Anthony Davis shoots as New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. defends during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson reacts during the second...

    New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson reacts during the second half of their play-in tournament game against the Lakers on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers star LeBron James shoots over New Orleans Pelicans forward...

    Lakers star LeBron James shoots over New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr., left, during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. James had 23 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, and the Lakers secured the No. 7 seed with a 110-106 victory. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • The New Orleans Pelicans’ Jose Alvarado reacts during the second...

    The New Orleans Pelicans’ Jose Alvarado reacts during the second half of their play-in tournament game against the Lakers on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) reacts after scoring...

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) reacts after scoring a 3-point basket in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the Lakers, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star Anthony Davis, left, is fouled by the New...

    Lakers star Anthony Davis, left, is fouled by the New Orleans Pelicans’ Jose Alvarado during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers star LeBron James (23) shoots between New Orleans Pelicans...

    Lakers star LeBron James (23) shoots between New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III and guard CJ McCollum in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) goes to the...

    New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum (3) goes to the basket against Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star Anthony Davis, right, is fouled by the New...

    Lakers star Anthony Davis, right, is fouled by the New Orleans Pelicans’ Herbert Jones during the second half of their play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell takes a 3-point shot during the...

    Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell takes a 3-point shot during the second half of their play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers star LeBron James celebrates after their victory over the...

    Lakers star LeBron James celebrates after their victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in a play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers star LeBron James celebrates after their victory over the...

    Lakers star LeBron James celebrates after their victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in a play-in tournament game on Tuesday night in New Orleans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

  • Lakers star LeBron James acknowledges fans as he leaves the...

    Lakers star LeBron James acknowledges fans as he leaves the court after an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Lakers star LeBron James smiles as he leaves the court...

    Lakers star LeBron James smiles as he leaves the court after an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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NEW ORLEANS — After their “Game 1” victory on Sunday, the Lakers expected a more aggressive and physical version of the New Orleans in Tuesday’s play-in tournament matchup.

And they withstood New Orleans’ best punches, beating the Pelicans, 110-106, to clinch the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and secure a spot in a first-round series against the second-seeded defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets – a rematch of last season’s conference finals.

Game 1 is Saturday at 5:30 p.m. PT in Denver.

“Tonight we showcased what we were able to do both offensively and defensively,” said Lakers star LeBron James, who had 23 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in the win. “We’ve got a good group going right now, good rotation, good plan and guys are coming in ready to go.”

The Pelicans “threw some heavy blows at us,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham, whose team enters the playoffs having won 12 of 15 games. “They kept swinging. We kept fighting back.

“It revealed a lot about us and what we’re made of,” he added. “That’s a helluva team we just got past.”

Even with James once again leading the Lakers with a strong two-way performance despite struggling with his shot (6-for-20 shooting) and taking on the Zion Williamson defensive assignment for the second straight game, the Lakers had to find other ways to pull out the victory with their star duo struggling to get them across the finish line.

And the Lakers’ starting backcourt delivered.

D’Angelo Russell (21 points on 7-for-14 shooting to go with six assists) came up with a steal in the clutch that prevented the Pelicans from taking a late lead. A few possessions later, Austin Reaves drove into the paint and kicked to Russell for a corner 3-pointer, giving the Lakers a 104-100 advantage with 50.3 seconds left – a lead they held on to for the remainder of the game.

Russell’s defender, second-year wing Dyson Daniels, helped off of Russell in the strongside corner on Reaves’ drive – which defenses typically don’t want to do – and didn’t recover in time to contest Russell’s shot.

“Young mistake from a young player,” Russell told the Southern California ɫ̳ Group. “That’s all it takes to lose a game. He’ll learn from it.”

Like James, Anthony Davis struggled to find his offensive rhythm, scoring 20 points on 6-for-16 shooting to go with 15 rebounds and three blocked shots.

But Davis made all four of his free throws in the final 15 seconds to prevent the Pelicans from making the comeback. James went 10 for 10 from the free-throw line and Davis was 8 for 10.

“We’ve just been playing good ball,” James said. “And everybody has been contributing. There hasn’t been many games where me and A.D. shot the ball (like this), I think we were 12 for 36 from the field. But the rest of the guys picked us up. So myself and A.D. was just trying to do everything else that we could.

“A.D. getting offensive rebounds, making free throws down the stretch. I continued to find my guys. Obviously, big-time shot by D-Lo right there in that strong corner by their bench. All-around team win.”

After a strong start from the Pelicans, in which they were ultra-aggressive defensively on the perimeter and sealed off the paint with timely off-ball shifts, the Lakers recovered to take a 60-50 halftime lead.

But New Orleans cut the Lakers’ 18-point third-quarter lead (73-55) to zero, tying the score at 95 with 3:13 remaining after an offensive flurry from Williamson (40 points on 17-for-27 shooting).

But Williamson went to the locker room for the final three minutes, throwing a towel to the floor in disgust as he walked into the tunnel with an apparent left leg injury.

James made a fallaway midrange jumper over Herb Jones to give the Lakers a 99-97 lead, his lone basket of the fourth, with just more than two minutes left.

Trey Murphy III tied the score again at 99-all after hitting a floater.

The Pelicans had the chance to take their first lead since midway through the second after a James turnover, but Russell came up with the steal before Reaves threw an alley-oop to Davis to give the Lakers a 101-99 lead with 1:24 left.

Reaves (16 points, six assists, five rebounds) also made a pair of late free throws late to seal the win for the Lakers.

The Lakers finished 14 for 35 from 3-point range. The Pelicans hit 9 for 29 from deep and Williamson didn’t get a lot of help from the Pelicans’ usual high scorers. Brandon Ingram missed 8 of 12 shots and finished with 11 points. CJ McCollum missed 11 of 15 shots and scored nine.

The Lakers led 75-57 after Rui Hachimura’s layup in the third quarter. But New Orleans got back in the game by outscoring them 19-8 during the final 5:31 of the period.

The Pelicans will face the Sacramento Kings, who eliminated the Golden State Warriors, 118-94, on Tuesday, on Friday with the winner earning the No. 8 seed.

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