NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Alex Caruso scored a career-high 23 points in just his 20th NBA game of the season, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the New Orleans Pelicans 130-102 on Sunday night.
JaVale McGee had 23 points and 16 rebounds, and former Pelican Rajon Rondo added 24 points and 12 assists for Los Angeles in a game missing both teams’ biggest stars: the Lakers’ LeBron James and the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis.
Former Laker Julius Randle scored 17 points for New Orleans in 23 minutes before leaving the game to have an X-ray on his left index finger, which the team said came back negative.
Caruso is a two-way player who has spent much of this season in the G League with the South Bay Lakers. Against New Orleans, he had teammates rising off the bench and doing brief celebratory dances as he pulled up decisively and accurately from outside, hitting all four of his 3-point shots. He also had a steal that set up his breakaway tomahawk dunk.
Caruso scored 12 of his points in the third quarter, when the Lakers outscored the Pelicans 44-22 to open up a 105-84 lead.
Christian Wood, acquired recently by New Orleans after Milwaukee placed him on waivers, had 15 points and 11 rebounds, marking the third time in just four games with his new club that he has scored in double digits. He had scored 25 and 23 points in his previous two games.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 19 and Reggie Bullock 18 for the Lakers, who won’t be going to the playoffs but have won four of five as they try to build toward next season.
Lakers: F Kyle Kuzma was ruled out shortly before tip-off. He was added to the club’s injury report with left foot tendinitis. Kuzma has played in 70 of 77 games this season. Coach Luke Walton suggested Kuzma would return to the lineup before the end of this season, if cleared. “One of his best attributes is how much he loves to play basketball and compete, so if he can, he’ll get out there,” Walton said. ... While James has yet to comment publicly about the Lakers’ decision to sit him for the final six regular season games to rest his sore left groin, Walton said James would have continued playing if the decision was left up to the player. “He wants to play,” Walton said “The medical staff has finally said, ‘Look, it’s just not worth it anymore. Let’s make sure we have a healthy summer.’... His health is the top priority with the fact that we’re out of the playoffs.” ... C Mike Muscala had 10 points off the bench.
Pelicans: G Frank Jackson missed his second straight game since being diagnosed with a concussion. ... F Darius Miller missed his first game since being diagnosed Friday with a left adductor strain. With his recovery time expected to range between one or two weeks, it’s unclear if he’ll play again this season. ... G E’Twaun Moore missed his 11th straight game with a bruised left quadriceps.
Lakers: Visit Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.
Pelicans: Host Charlotte on Wednesday night.