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Pelicans beat Lakers; Bryant injured

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NEW ORLEANS – Kobe Bryant tried valiantly to play with one arm, but the Los Angeles Lakers looked old and weary. The New Orleans Pelicans, meanwhile, showcased their rising superstar, forward Anthony Davis, who continues to soar to new heights.

That’s usually a recipe for a blowout, and the Pelicans, sparked by Davis’ game-high 29 points, four blocks and three steals, delivered with a 27-12 fourth quarter Wednesday night to roll to a 96-80 victory over the Lakers, their fourth consecutive win over Los Angeles.

Bryant, who finished with 14 points, aggravated a right shoulder injury on a tomahawk dunk at the end of a nifty baseline spin late in the third quarter, which tied the score 59-59.

But after that, Bryant missed badly on a 3-pointer and threw a wild behind-the-back pass that was easily picked off by guard Tyreke Evans, who dribbled the length of the court for a layup.

“I went up, and it felt fine when I went up, and it didn’t feel too good when I came down,” Bryant said. “Nobody hit it — it just came out (of joint) a little bit. It’s been bothering me for a while, but right now it’s just a little achy. I’m going to get some ice and therapy.”

Bryant went to the bench with 2:23 left in the third quarter and did not return until five minutes remained in the game, with the Lakers trailing 87-75.

Amazingly, Bryant went down to the right baseline and hit a short jumper, using only his left hand. But on the Lakers’ next possession, Bryant badly missed a fallaway jumper over forward Dante Cunningham.

Scott pulled Bryant again for good with 69 seconds left. After the game, Bryant was examined by trainer Gary Vitti, and more tests are scheduled Thursday. His status for Friday night’s game at San Antonio is uncertain.

“Right now it’s just a sore right shoulder,” said Lakers coach Byron Scott, who said he had no qualms putting Bryant back in after Bryant tried to go through some range of motion exercises on the bench.

“The alarm bell was to get him back out,” Scott said. “After a couple of trips up and down the floor, I wanted to see if he was going to use it. Then, when I saw that he wasn’t — Gary was walking up about the same time I was thinking about getting him out anyway. When I talked to him before, he just said, ‘Yeah, I’m all right.’ Obviously, after I saw that everything he did was with the left hand, I knew then, hey, let’s get him out of there.”

Coming off a sore left toe that had sidelined him for three games, Davis scored 20 points in the second half, including 13 in the third quarter. The Pelicans (21-21) trailed 44-43 at halftime and led by just one point entering the fourth quarter. But they used a 21-10 spurt in the first 8:20 of the fourth to pull away for their fourth consecutive victory over the Lakers (12-31).

“I thought it was going to be a long night for me,” Davis said. “But I just kept trying to play hard and get out of that funk. The team did a good job of looking for me and I tried to go find the ball.”

The Lakers scored just 12 points in the final quarter, a season-low defensive stand by the Pelicans.

Evans scored 19 points and guard Eric Gordon added 17 points and 10 assists for the Pelicans.

“We just love Eric’s floor game,” said New Orleans coach Monty Williams. “Having 10 assists was huge for us.”

The Lakers, who lost their fifth consecutive road game, were paced by center Jordan Hill’s 15 points and Bryant’s 14.

Davis continued his assault in the fourth quarter, scoring five straight — on a short baseline jumper and a free throw, followed by a 14-footer from the right baseline — to put New Orleans on top 76-68 with 9:12 left. Davis also blocked a Nick Young drive to the basket on the Lakers’ next possession — his fourth block of the game.

NOTES: Pelicans G Jrue Holiday, who missed four games during the recent 2-3 New Orleans road trip, will be sidelined another two to four weeks with a stress reaction in his lower right leg, coach Monty Williams said. Holiday’s injury was originally diagnosed as an ankle inflammation. Holiday averages 15.2 points and 7.1 assists per game, and now most of the point guard duties will fall to Tyreke Evans. … Lakers G Kobe Bryant, who was rested the previous two games, returned to the lineup. “It’s just kind of game by game,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I just sit down with him and go over how he feels and what he thinks he can handle.” … Scott gushed over Pelicans F Anthony Davis. “He’s just very unique,” Scott said. “You don’t see many guys at 7 feet that can run the floor, block shots, rebound, can shoot the ball. The only guy I can kind of compare him to as far as having that type of size and skill is Kevin Durant.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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