Sports | February 26, 2020 11:59 am

LeBron Leads Lakers Past Zion and Pelicans in Possible Playoff Preview

In the first matchup between the two stars, Los Angeles beat New Orleans 118-109

LeBron James Beats Zion Williamson in Possible Playoff Preview
LeBron James stands on the court against the New Orleans Pelicans. (Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty)
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In the first matchup between two of the NBA’s most popular stars, LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 118-109 win over Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans in LA.

James, who had 40 points on 17-of-27 shooting with five 3-pointers, got the best of the matchup …

… but Williamson, who had 29 points of his own, got his as well.

Aired on national TV, the game was a dream matchup for the NBA, and the league has to be hoping it was a playoff preview.

While the Pelicans (25-33) will have to start winning some more games if they’re going to move into the eighth seed in the Western Conference and earn a first-round postseason matchup with the first-place Lakers (44-12), New Orleans is in prime position to do it.

Though they are 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 spot in the West, the Pelicans have a substantially easier schedule than the Grizzlies going forward. Eighteen of New Orleans’ 24 remaining games come against teams that are below .500 and, were it to come down to a tie-breaker, the Pelicans are 2-0 against Memphis this season with two games left to play.

The Grizzlies, who are 5-5 in their last 10 games, will also be without out two of their best players, second-year forward Jaren Jackson Jr. and rookie forward Brandon Clarke, for at least the next two weeks. By the time Jackson and Clarke are back, they could be looking up in the standings at Williamson and New Orleans.

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram played with James on the Lakers last season but was dealt to New Orleans as part of a package of players that brought All-Star Anthony Davis to Los Angeles.

As Ingram told The Athleticthe prospect of facing the Lakers in the playoffs has been a topic of conversation in NOLA.

“That’s something that’s been talked about amongst everybody that I’ve seen around town,” Ingram said on Sunday night. “The coach [the Pelicans’ Alvin Gentry] has mentioned it a little bit. Of course the team likes to stay in the moment. We don’t look that far ahead, but the coaches have mentioned it a little bit. It would be fun to try to battle against them and see (if) we can get the best of them.”

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