LOS ANGELES (AP) — Five games into his trade to the Pelicans, DeMarcus Cousins wanted something to show for it. Like a win.
It finally happened against the spiraling Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.
Cousins had 26 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out in the Pelicans’ 105-97 victory after they squelched the Lakers’ fourth-quarter rally.
”It feels good to finally get one under our belt,” he said. ”It eases some pressure.”
Anthony Davis added 31 points for the Pelicans, who swept the season series for the second straight year and just the second time ever.
”We’ve just got to build off it,” Davis said. ”We were just talking out there, especially on offense. It’s just communication, trying to play off each other.”
The Pelicans improved to 1-4 with Cousins, who joined the team in a trade from Sacramento on Feb. 20. They won a game while he was serving a one-game suspension after earning his 18th technical of the season.
Adding Cousins to the mix has forced the Pelicans to adapt on the fly.
”It’s hard when a team already has their chemistry and you add a piece like myself,” he said. ”It’s a hard transition. To say we’ve got it down pat would be a lie, but we’re definitely getting better each game.”
Nick Young led the Lakers with 19 points. They fell to 0-7 since the All-Star break, a game away from equaling the team’s worst skid of the season. They’ve also lost five in a row at Staples Center.
”We need to find a way to get a win and put something together,” Young said. ”We just have to keep fighting and we can’t give up.”
The Lakers rallied from 14 points down in the fourth to tie the game at 97 on a free throw by Julius Randle, capping a 14-0 run. Young scored five straight points and D’Angelo Russell hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the spurt that had the crowd on its feet cheering after only the dull roar of conversation was heard earlier.
”They did a great job of giving themselves a chance of fighting back into the game but made crucial mistakes the last minute or so,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. ”The execution wasn’t great in the last couple minutes, but it was good experience for them.”
Cousins left with his sixth foul and the game tied with 1:55 to play. Davis scored and Jrue Holiday hit a 3-pointer to put the Pelicans back in front for good.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry liked that the big three of Davis, Cousins and Holiday had balanced scoring.
”All of those guys stepped up and did good things,” he said. ”The bench came in and gave us some minutes. If we’re going to be a good team, that’s the formula for us being a good team.”
The Lakers shot 51 percent in the first half and owned a 59-55 lead at halftime in the game between two clubs mired in last place in their respective divisions.
Los Angeles faltered in the third quarter, shooting 5 of 22 and committing six turnovers while being outscored 28-14.
The Pelicans ran off 13 straight points, with Solomon Hill chipping in five and Holiday four, to lead 79-67.
”I don’t think we played with the same aggression,” said Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram, who had 16 points. ”We stopped what we were doing.”
Cousins played with the second unit to start the fourth, extending their lead to 89-75. He sat down and Davis and Holiday came back in, but the Lakers started scoring and the Pelicans couldn’t stop them.
Davis passed the ball out of bounds and Cousins lost a rebound to Randle during the Lakers’ run before the Pelicans closed the game on an 8-0 run.
Pelicans: G Hollis Thompson earned himself a second 10-day contract. He finished with one point while starting for the fifth time in six games. … C Omer Asik was out sick. … G Jarrett Jack sat out his second straight with a right meniscus tear. … Holiday attended UCLA’s win over Washington State on Saturday in which his brother Aaron led the Bruins with 16 points.
Lakers: F Larry Nance Jr. sprained his right wrist. X-rays were negative and he’ll be re-evaluated on Monday. … C Ivica Zubac rested a right quad contusion. … F Corey Brewer turned 31.
Pelicans: Visit Utah on Monday. They lost to the Jazz by 33 points a month ago.
Lakers: Visit Dallas on Tuesday, a team they have yet to beat in three meetings this season.