Coronavirus: California passed 3 million cases, 34,000 deaths on Jan. 19

California’s case count has hit the 3 million milestone.

According to data gleaned from local public health departments across the state, there were 57,307 new cases and 700 new deaths reported from Tuesday, Jan. 19.

And, of the 3.2 million vaccinations distributed throughout the state, 1.39 million have been administered, tracking showed.

 

California regions and ICU capacity for Jan. 19

As ICU capacity dwindles in Southern California the percentages in this graphic have been adjusted by state public health officials to represent the high levels of COVID-19 patients among all ICU patients. More actual beds may be available.

Vaccines administered as of Jan. 17

The California Department of Public Health site shows a total of 3,226,775 vaccine doses, which includes the first and second dose, have been shipped to local health departments and health care systems as of Jan. 17.

The totals of vaccines administered across six different regions are in the maps below. As of Jan. 17, a total of 1,393,224 vaccine doses have been administered statewide.That’s up 609,748 from the Jan. 11 report. The state cautions that the numbers do not represent true day-to-day change as reporting may be delayed.

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Laguna Hills swimmer Tona Zinn commits to Northwestern

Laguna Hills High swimmer Tona Zinn, who became a CIF Southern Section individual champion as a freshman, committed to Northwestern on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The junior from the SOCAL club announced his commitment on Instagram, thanking his friends, family and coaches for their support.

As a freshman in 2019, Zinn captured the 200-yard individual medley at the Division 1 final in 1 minute, 48.61 seconds. He also placed third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.79.

Zinn went on to race at the CIF State meet in Clovis, finishing fifth in the 200 IM and ninth in the breaststroke.

Last spring, Orange County’s high school swimmers didn’t get much of a chance to make a splash as the pandemic ended their season in mid-March.

In a club meet in Arizona last month, Zinn clocked a swift 1:47.61 in the 200 IM. Corey Okubo holds the county record with a 1:45.42 for University in 2014.

Please send swimming news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter or Instagram

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Man arrested on suspicion of DUI after Huntington Beach crash kills 2

A Sunset Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI after a multi-vehicle traffic crash in Huntington Beach left two people dead on Tuesday evening, Jan. 19.

35-year-old Eric Kinser was transported to UCI Medical Center for treatment and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, the Huntington Beach Police Department said in a statement.

At 6:45 p.m., police responded to reports of a multi-vehicle collision in the area of Pacific Coast Highway and Warner Avenue. Three vehicles with extensive damage were found in the southbound lanes of PCH.

After a preliminary investigation, it was determined that Kinser drove a white 2007 Dodge Ram pickup truck north on PCH and crossed over the center median into southbound lanes of traffic, police said. He collided head-on with a silver 1999 Toyota Solara, driven by a 19-year-old man from Newport Beach; and a white 2012 Lexus RX350, driven by a 71-year old woman from Huntington Beach, the Police Department said.

The driver of the Lexus was pronounced deceased at the scene and the driver of the Toyota was transported to UCI Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries, police said. A 45-year old female passenger in the Lexus was transported to OC Global Medical Center with moderate injuries.

Anyone with information about the crash was asked to contact Huntington Beach Police Traffic Investigator D. Demetre at 714-536-5670.

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Laguna Hills High, SOCAL swimmer Tona Zinn commits to Northwestern

Laguna Hills High swimmer Tona Zinn, who became a CIF Southern Section individual champion as a freshman, committed to Northwestern on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The junior from the SOCAL club announced his commitment on Instagram, thanking his friends, family and coaches for their support.

As a freshman in 2019, Zinn captured the 200-yard individual medley at the Division 1 final in 1 minute, 48.61 seconds. He also placed third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.79.

Zinn went on to race at the CIF State meet in Clovis, finishing fifth in the 200 IM and ninth in the breaststroke.

Last spring, Orange County’s high school swimmers didn’t get much of a chance to make a splash as the pandemic ended their season in mid-March.

In a club meet in Arizona last month, Zinn clocked a swift 1:47.61 in the 200 IM. Corey Okubo holds the county record with a 1:45.42 for University in 2014.

Please send swimming news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter or Instagram

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Magnolia Tank Farm project is the right reuse for Huntington Beach

Like communities across the nation, Huntington Beach has suffered through the pandemic, impacting not only residents’ health, but wreaking havoc on the local economy and municipal finances. At this challenging time, it is important leaders embrace opportunities to repair and renew economic resilience and community health.

Huntington Beach City Council has such an opportunity on January 19 when it considers a proposal for re-use of the Magnolia Tank Farm. Located at the intersection of Magnolia Street and Banning Avenue, it derives its name from three above-ground oil storage tanks built in the early 1970s and demolished several years ago. What remains is essentially an eyesore on the beautiful Huntington Beach coastline.

The Magnolia Tank Farm project is for 250 for-sale homes, a 215-room boutique eco-friendly lodge and 19,000 square feet of retail and dining space that will create jobs and generate property, sales and hotel bed tax revenues to fund city services. The hotel will feature meeting facilities available for use by the community.

Huntington Beach is a unique and wonderful community, and land reuse proposals should honor the existing community, balance competing interests, protect the environment and respectfully move the city forward. Magnolia Tank Farm project meets these standards.

Beyond the obvious economic benefits, a development agreement contractually obligates the developer to deliver a range of community benefits, including three acres of new public parks, trails and viewpoints.

Land from the site will be set aside as a new public park, Marsh Park, offering public views of the Magnolia Marsh and the ocean, recreation areas and an amphitheater. An elevated public coastal trail providing ocean views will be built along the western edge of the site, next to the marsh. Furthermore, the existing privately owned greenbelt known as “Squirrel Park” will become Magnolia Park; it will be owned by the city, open to the public,  but maintained – at no public expense – by the new community’s homeowner’s association.

Other community benefits include millions of dollars to fund improvements to the Banning Branch Library and Edison Park, as well as traffic improvements and beautification for Banning Avenue and Magnolia Street. While each of these improvements offers immediate benefits to residents, they also make Huntington Beach a more attractive location for those looking to start a business or relocate their economic ventures to a new locale. Especially now as Orange County looks to recovery after the devasting economic impacts of COVID-19, leaders should take every opportunity to position their communities for success.

Equally important is the ongoing contribution Magnolia Tank Farm will make to the fiscal health of the city and the greater Orange County economy. The four-star eco-friendly lodge and retail/dining venues mean more jobs and business opportunities, increased property, sales and bed tax revenues. The project itself will contribute millions of dollars in developer fees to city and school coffers.

This is an opportunity to convert nonproductive land into a valuable community asset.  It also provides badly needed housing to address a severe backlog in supply and meet local requirements under state law.  The lack of options for Huntington Beach residents and workers exacerbates traffic and air quality problems as more are forced to commute; it hampers Orange County’s competitive business advantage as young professionals increasingly move elsewhere in order to buy homes, crippling economic growth. With this project, Huntington Beach remains a leader in economic recovery, while also complementing and preserving its local community character.

Expert analysis and official findings researching the details and fiscal implications were evaluated by the Huntington Beach Planning Commission – an important step before City Council review – and the commissioners voted overwhelmingly for project approval.

Magnolia Tank Farm’s balance and panoply of benefits have garnered broad-based support from business leaders, public safety, civic organizations, community leaders, residents and housing advocates, including Huntington Beach Police Officers Association, Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce, Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, Orange County Business Council and many others.

It is not often when the county’s leading business organization and a police union align on issues.  But here we heartily concur and ask Huntington Beach City Council to join with us in support of an effective reuse of a blighted site – and to seize this opportunity to create jobs, economic vitality, new businesses, for-sale housing, expanded environmental access and millions in tax revenues for vital public services.

We urge a “yes” vote for this project.

Lucy Dunn is President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council. Yahsa Nikitin is President of the Huntington Beach Police Officers Association

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Cal State Fullerton bounces back for series split with CSUN

A night after being scolded by Coach Dedrique Taylor for a lack of effort, the Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team bounced back on Sunday with a complete-game victory over Cal State Northridge, 85-77, at Titan Gym.

The Titans lost the opener of the two-game Big West Conference series on Saturday night despite CSUN being without its two leading scorers, and Taylor lamented his team’s lack of intensity.

“They responded the right way and were really scrappy against a good team,” Taylor said following Sunday’s win. “We didn’t really talk about offense or defense before the game, just doing what we do in practice and playing hard.”

Sunday’s rematch was close throughout, but the Titans finally took control with a late run. Leading 68-67 with 4:48 left, they outscored the Matadors 13-6, Vincent Lee scoring seven points and Dante Maddox Jr. and Tory San Antonio hitting 3-pointers. That gave the Titans (3-4 overall, 2-4 Big West) an eight-point lead with 1:48 left and the Matadors couldn’t get closer than six points the rest of the way.

Lee led the team with a career-high 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds. Lance Spivey added 13 points off the bench, Maddox had 11 off the bench and San Antonio had 10.

“We did a good of finding Vincent inside,” Taylor said of the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward. “I think we can score enough, but we have to buy in to playing the right way. We know what Vincent can do. We have enough guys who can shoot and score inside, we just have to have more of an effort to playing hard.”

The Matadors (5-4, 1-1) were again without TJ Starks (18.1 ppg) and Lance Coleman (15.7 ppg), and the Titans put a wall around guard Brendan Harrick, who made seven 3-pointers on Saturday. Miles Brookins (6.3 ppg) also missed the game for CSUN.

Darius Brown scored 14 points with six rebounds and seven assists for CSUN. Vante Hendrix scored 14 and Atin Wright had 22 points off the bench.

“We played really hard but I think we’ve got to get a little smarter at times,” CSUN coach Mark Gottfried said. “We had some critical errors but our effort was there. We had some guys out and people stepped up. Atin stepped in there and had a phenomenal game, George (Nwogu) got a few minutes – he hadn’t played a whole lot.

“When Festus (Ndumanya) got in foul trouble that hurt us some. We’re still learning, we have to get better defensively, we have to get a little better at executing our offense and getting the right shot. There’s no way I could fault our effort, we just came up a little bit short.”

UP NEXT

Cal State Fullerton is scheduled to host Hawaii on Friday and Saturday, with both games at 3 p.m.

CSUN is scheduled to host UC Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday, with both games at 4 p.m.

.@vincemikelee on the team win and his individual performance. #TusksUp pic.twitter.com/zwhcfIPKEA

— Titans Men’s Basketball (@FullertonMBB) January 18, 2021

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Newsom’s budget will make California’s problems worse

With the political maelstroms in Washington D.C., it’s easy to overlook California’s own pressing problems. Recently, Gov. Gavin Newsom submitted his 2021-22 State Budget proposal, which would make California’s troubles go from bad to worse. The $227.2 billion fiscal blueprint increases government unions’ power and wealth, pouring gasoline on California’s myriad public policy fires.

More government spending won’t fix the economic problems facing the state. California has the country’s seventh-highest unemployment rate, with 1.5 million people looking for work. Poverty, economic opportunity, and income inequality are all among the worst in the nation. The state’s strict Covid-19 restrictions have caused immense small business pain for little-to-no apparent gain. Hospitalizations per capita are near the highest in the country, and many ICUs are overrun.

California’s tax and regulatory burden are downright European, making it very difficult for small businesses to stay profitable even at the best of times. Californians earning a mere $59,000 per year face a 9.3 percent tax rate. Yet, Golden State residents get almost nothing in return for their massive tax burdens. Schools are failing (when they’re open), homelessness is out of control, infrastructure resembles the Third World, and first responders are slow to arrive, if they come at all. That’ll get worse to the extent California communities succeed in defunding police.

Electricity rates are among the highest in the nation, and $4 a gallon gas raises everyone’s cost of living. Meanwhile, the green mandates that drive up energy prices haven’t helped the environment, as annual forest fires due to a lack of forest management destroy air quality and decimate entire cities. Recurrent blackouts mean Californians don’t even get reliable energy in return for their high bills.

As a result of this climate, businesses and people are fleeing the state. In recent months, top executives, including Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, and Keith Rabois, have fled, taking tens of billions of economic activity and tax dollars with them. Census figures show that this outmigration isn’t limited to the top 1 percent, with more people moving out than moving in over the last few years.

No wonder there’s a recall effort against Gov. Newsom that’s quickly gaining steam. Even the mainstream media has caught on to the political ramifications of the consequences. “Newsom scrambles to save California — and his career,” reads a recent Politico headline.

Now Gov. Newsom is about to make things worse with a budget that further diverts state resources into government unions’ pockets. California’s government unions already collect nearly one billion dollars annually in dues payments that are partly used to elect politicians who — like Newsom — will do their bidding.

His budget proposal calls for roughly $90 billion in education funding, the highest level in state history. Parents are currently paying for tutoring and supplies that would have otherwise been provided in classrooms. Given that it will be months before teachers return, parents bearing the costs of educating their kids at home might wonder if this is a misdirection of resources.

The budget directs a total of $7 billion in pandemic-related support to schools and students. These funds are in addition to the billions of dollars that California schools have already received in federal aid. Yet classrooms don’t need to resemble hospitals. They can already return with the same added cost-effective precautions seen in the rest of the economy. Newsom’s additional funds are little more than a payoff to teachers unions cajoling them to reopen classrooms.

The budget directs roughly one billion dollars to expand transitional kindergarten, which offers teachers unions an opportunity to further grow their ranks by organizing early childhood educators. The budget press release notes, “The Administration has already begun the collective bargaining process with representatives of child care providers to negotiate a memorandum of understanding that governs the payments made to these providers.”

Californians have more than enough to be concerned about here at home without worrying about what’s going on in Washington, D.C. Gov. Newsom’s budget will only make the problems worse by further empowering government unions responsible for them in the first place.

Will Swaim is the president of the California Policy Center.

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Lakers dismantle Pelicans in second half for fifth straight win

  • The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma knocks a rebound away from the Pelicans’ Josh Hart during Friday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) moves the ball up court as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell (15) looks to pass as the Pelicans’ Nicolo Melli (20) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) looks to pass as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram (14) shoots as the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) grabs a rebound away from the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans offensive foul on Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram (14) fouls the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) on his way to the hoop during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell (15) dunks the ball during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots as Pelicans’ Nicolo Melli (20) and Eric Bledsoe (5) defend during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Dennis Schroder (17) dives for a loose ball as the Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis shoots during Friday’s game against the Pelicans at Staples Center. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Dennis Schroder (17) passes the ball as the Pelicans’ Eric Bledsoe (5) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) passes the ball during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) wipes his face during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) attempts to keep the ball inbounds as the Lakers’ LeBron James (23) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) dunks the ball during their NBA game against the Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots a 3-point shot as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Head coach Frank Vogel watches play against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers keep the ball from Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans pivots around Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans scores on a layup during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans loses his dribble as Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers falls during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores over Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket past Eric Bledsoe #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers dives for the ball in front of Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans and LeBron James #23 during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores in front of Nicolo Melli #20 and Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles in front of Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans is fouled by LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers as he drives on Markieff Morris #88 during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a play with Montrezl Harrell #15 and Dennis Schroder #17 during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a basket with Anthony Davis #3 and Alex Caruso #4 during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks during the first quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) deflects a shot by New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) tries to take the ball from Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroeder, left, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) reaches for a rebound between forward Zion Williamson (1) and Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, right, defends against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, top, and New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) air their differences during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli, left, and center Steven Adams (12) defend against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroeder, right, defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers steals a pass at center court during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a three pointer from LeBron James #23 after a timeout during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a three pointer from LeBron James #23 during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks up at a replay during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans gets position in front of LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores on a layup around Nicolo Melli #20 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers blocks the shot of Kira Lewis Jr. #13 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles in front of Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans attempts a shot in front of Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket in front of Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers keep the ball from Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans passes in front of Anthony Davis #3 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dunks against New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli, center, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell dunks during the fourth quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Kira Lewis Jr. goes to the basket as Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) and center Montrezl Harrell (15) defend during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell (15) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson dunks during the third quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell (15) defends during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Kira Lewis Jr. (13) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Head coach Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as LeBron James #23 leaves the game during a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers gives an interview after a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers gives an interview after a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers have looked a lot like frontrunners lately, riding a winning streak that saw them ring up several blowouts on the road. How, then, would they respond to a youthful team out-shooting them and out-defending them to take a 15-point lead?

With plenty of patience.

As the visiting New Orleans Pelicans got out to an explosive start at Staples Center on Friday night, the Lakers steadily hung in, then crept back – first in the margins, then finally, overwhelmingly in the third quarter when the dam broke with a 15-0 run on the way to a 112-95 victory, the Lakers’ fifth straight.

LeBron James (21 points), of course, provided the crowning moment of the rally with a highlight-reel putback dunk. The power in his legs still belies his 36 years, but the steadiness with which he and the Lakers (11-3) handled their upstart competitors and their young stars, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, spoke to how much experience separates these teams.

“There is no saving something for later in the season,” James laughed afterward. “My body’s ready to play whatever I need to play over the course of the game. I go hard when I’m out there and I start my treatment after the game. So, I wish I could bank time.”

The league-leading Lakers can certainly bank wins.

The Pelicans were rocked in the second half on every level, scoring just 37 points after halftime while finding their sturdy first-half defense torn apart: The Lakers’ passing prowess netted them 31 assists on 39 field goals on the night, led by James’ 11. Six Lakers scored in double figures, including Anthony Davis (17 points) and Montrezl Harrell (16 points).

From the 6:40 mark of the third quarter until there were 55 seconds remaining, New Orleans couldn’t score at all. The Lakers came out of a timeout with fadeaway shots from James and center Marc Gasol, and from then it was off to the races.

It looked different than the dominant three-game road trip when the Lakers hung big early leads on the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Davis said the team might have been dragging from getting back home, where they are just 4-3.

“It can kinda wear on you a little bit and get you off on a slow start,” he said. “We overcame it tonight.”

It was a dramatically different tone from the start of the night, when the Lakers were a Davis free throw shy of their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season. They missed seven of their first 24 shots, getting just 20 points.

On the other side of the ball, they held the wrecking ball-body of Williamson (21 points) in check with double-teams in the paint. They had fewer answers for Ingram, the former Laker, who diced them up from all over the floor with jumpers and drives. He scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half.

The Lakers began to turn things around in the second quarter at the free-throw line, warming up what had been cold hands. Davis found his stroke after missing eight of his first 10 attempts from the field, and between the stripe and a few jumpers, the former Pelican scored nine of the last 14 points of the first half.

Dennis Schröder hit a banked-in floater to cut the margin to a single point at halftime, despite the fact that New Orleans shot 61 percent in the first half to the Lakers’ 40 percent. But Coach Frank Vogel said it was Schröder’s steals in the second quarter that truly gave the team the spark.

“The fight that he showed picking up full court, getting those two turnovers, really creating some havoc for their offense, really positioned us to do what we did in the second half,” Vogel said. “It’s a one-point game at halftime; it could’ve been a 10-, 15-point differential.”

The shooting gap was almost completely made up in the Lakers’ advantages in the turnover margin (plus-11 at the half) and at the free-throw line (20 Laker attempts to three for the Pelicans). The Lakers wound up with 12 fewer turnovers and 15 more made free throws in the game.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (16 points) capped a strong week returning from injury with his best shot-making performance yet. Among his four 3-pointers on the evening, the third quarter saw him nail one while falling to the court, sealing his claim as the most reliable deep threat on the team. He moved up to ninth all-time in franchise history with 423 3-pointers as a Laker.

Still, on a team shooting the NBA’s third-best percentage from 3-point range (39.6 percent), there is competition. Kyle Kuzma hit three, Alex Caruso hit three, and James hit two. James might still have a case as the best overall shooter on the team, given he’s the only one regularly allowed to pull up from the logo.

“LeBron’s always gonna be up there because he shoots a ton of them, especially when he gets hot, and starts shooting halfcourt and things like that,” Davis said. “I don’t think Coach will maybe allow Kenny to do that.”

For now, the most compelling competition remains between the Lakers themselves –not against the rest of the league.

👑@KingJames powers the @Lakers to an NBA-best 11-3. #LakeShow

21 PTS | 8 REB | 11 AST pic.twitter.com/0RQX0hSNaN

— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021

LeBron 🔨 in #PhantomCam.

LAL/GSW ⏩ Mon. (1/18), 10pm/et, TNT pic.twitter.com/0Y8KzVpnKT

— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021

“My body is ready to play.”@KingJames on how he feels at age 36, playing limited minutes and the #Lakers performance down the stretch. pic.twitter.com/bVv5kECgKm

— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 16, 2021

🚫 AD says NO on ESPN! 🚫pic.twitter.com/jnULvJ9r3L

— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021

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Clippers shoot their way past short-handed Pelicans

  • Clippers center Serge Ibaka blocks a shot by the Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker during the second half of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans battles Marcus Morris Sr. #8 of the LA Clippers for a rebound during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives past Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans lays up a shot past the defense of Serge Ibaka #9 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans pushes Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans attempts to dribble past the defense of Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles into the defense of Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles into the defense of Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers defends against a shot by Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers defends against a shot by Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Nicolo Melli #20 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots past the defense of Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots past the defense of Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles past Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles past Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers passes past Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles past Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans defends against a dribbling Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans defends against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans defends against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers pushes back on the defense of Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers attempts to dunk over the defense of Nicolo Melli #20 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans defends against a shot by Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Ivica Zubac #40 and Luke Kennard #5 of the LA Clippers defend against a pass by JJ Redick #4 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2, Ivica Zubac #40 and Marcus Morris Sr. #8 of the LA Clippers defend against Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers defends against a shot by Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers makes a shot past the defense of Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers dribbles into the defense of Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers battles JJ Redick #4 of the New Orleans Pelicans for a rebound during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Steven Adams #12 and Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans attempt to stop Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defends against New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) shoots next to Los Angeles Clippers center Serge Ibaka (9) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (33) defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Sindarius Thornwell (15) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) shoots against Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) blocks a shot by New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes, center, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) defends. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac, rear, defends against New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) makes a 3-pointer against New Orleans Pelicans guard Sindarius Thornwell (15) at the end of the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George, top right, is congratulated after his 3-pointer at the end of the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) shoots past Los Angeles Clippers center Serge Ibaka (9) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots between New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) and center Steven Adams (12) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) defends against Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) defends against Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) defends against Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center Serge Ibaka, top right, defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots as New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) defends during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick (4) passes the ball over Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) and guard Luke Kennard (5) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) dunks during the fourth quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Sindarius Thornwell (15) defends against Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Pelicans center Steven Adams, rear, hugs Clippers guard Paul George after Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. The two used to be teammates in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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LOS ANGELES — The Staples Center stage was set up for a clash of styles and, on Wednesday night, a stark difference of fortunes.

Fully staffed at the outset, the favored Clippers avoided the trappings of life against an undermanned underdog, getting past a pesky New Orleans Pelicans team that was down three starters, including superstar sophomore Zion Williamson.

“When you have a lot of talent sometimes, you can fall victim to that, but we just got to make sure we’re just taking advantage of every day, every game, every practice and trying to get better,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said before his team’s 111-106 victory.

“Our main focus,” Lue insisted, “is us getting better each night, not about the opponent.”

That “professional focus,” as Lue termed it, has been a willed skill that’s required nurturing, to hear Ivica Zubac tell it.

“We come out with the same mindset,” the center said, before revising that statement slightly: “We try to come out with the same mindset – ever since that Dallas game (a franchise-worst 51-point loss).

“We know we’re going to get the best shot from every team, every night and we’re prepared for it. … I think we got better at that from last year, but we can still be better at that.”

It won’t hurt to lodge victories such as Wednesday’s against the Pelicans, who, despite being shorthanded, played their part admirably.

Coach Stan Van Gundy’s squad dominated the boards, 48-36 – fully in character for the team that showed up Wednesday with a league-best rebounding percentage of 54.1 percent.

The Pelicans also did their requisite damage in the paint, outscoring their hosts down low, 52-20.

And they got a boost from second-year guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who flourished in his first start of the season, leading the Pelicans with 37 points (on 15-for-23 shooting) and eight rebounds, both career highs.

But those areas of success weren’t enough against the NBA’s top 3-point shooting team (L.A. is shooting 42.9 percent from deep), which continued to drive, kick and connect from distance – going 18 for 37 against New Orleans.

“I just think taking the right 3s, playing the right way, is the biggest thing for us,” said Lue, whose players excelled at setting up one another Wednesday, assisting on 26 of their 35 made baskets. “We really had the ball hopping tonight early on and we still had some possessions in the second half where the ball was moving as well. We just got to continue to play in the right way through the game.”

While the Pelicans (4-6) shot 10 for 28 from deep, half of the Clippers’ shots originated from behind the arc, and six Clippers connected on multiple 3s. George was responsible for five of them – the ninth time this season he’s hit four or more in a game and the seventh time he made at least five.

“Just shooting it with confidence and really just knowing the shots I’ma get, so I knew what to look for, I know what to expect, I know how the shots are coming,” George said.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 28 points and nine assists, and George weaved his way through New Orleans’ defense for a typically pretty assortment of baskets, scoring 27 points on shot-making that included a fourth-quarter layup, flipped off the top of the backboard, as well as the 3-pointer as time expired in the first half.

That first-half-finishing trey punctuated a 21-4 run and ended with George falling backward into the arms of Serge Ibaka, who wrapped him in a bear hug and carried him off the court, their lead 18 points.

With the Clippers feeling thinner in the second half, when Lou Williams sat with a sore hip, the Pelicans closed to within 89-85 with 8:11 to go – but L.A. used its long-range skills to nudge the door closed.

Patrick Beverley’s third 3-pointer recreated some distance and Leonard’s first 3-pointer (of two) shortly thereafter made it 97-87, and had team owner Steve Ballmer whipping his right arm in the air from his seat next to the basket.

The Clippers ran a rotation of defenders at Brandon Ingram, last season’s Most Improved Player awardee, and he finished with 22 points on 8-for-19 shooting.

In addition to Williamson (ruled out because of inconclusive coronavirus test results), the Pelicans were missing Lonzo Ball (bilateral knee tendinopathy) and Eric Bledsoe (right eye irritation). Together, the trio accounts for 46.1 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.

The victory was the Clippers’ second in a row, breaking a seven-game, win-one-lose-one pattern they’d been mired in since their 128-105 victory over Portland on Dec. 30.

“Games like this are dangerous, when key guys are out,” Lue said. “Sometimes, you let your guard down. I thought the first half we really didn’t, I thought we really did a good job of coming out with a professional focus.”

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Alabama’s DeVonta Smith, in just a half, wasn’t half bad

By TIM REYNOLDS

The Associated Press

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — DeVonta Smith did not catch a single pass after halftime. He didn’t have to, either.

He’d done plenty.

The Heisman Trophy-winning receiver from Alabama put his stamp all over the College Football Playoff championship game in the first two quarters, and the Crimson Tide are national champions once again. Smith had 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns – all those scores coming in the second quarter – to lead the Tide past Ohio State, 52-24, on Monday night.

“Last year, they said the dynasty was over,” Smith said. “We don’t stop. We just keep reloading.”

He won everything there was to win this season: the national title, the Heisman, and became the first FBS player since Michael Crabtree in 2007 to lead the nation in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

And after winning Offensive Player-of-the-Game honors on Monday, next stop, the NFL.

“Unbelievable,” Smith said in the on-field interview, as garnet confetti littered the field. “We just finished writing our story. That was the whole thing of us coming back, just finishing the story that we wanted to write. And we did that.”

Smith left in the third quarter, a towel draped over his right hand, covering what was later revealed to be a dislocated finger. Smith stopped on his way into the Alabama locker room to gaze at a television mounted high over the left side of the entrance, checking out one of the countless Crimson Tide highlights of the evening.

He was responsible for plenty of them.

“Smitty, obviously, had a great half,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

Smith had five catches that went for more than 15 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown that pushed Alabama’s lead to 35-17 just before halftime. He doesn’t so much run as glides; consider, on one of his touchdowns Monday night, he evaded a defender, the end zone pylon, three photographers and a crane holding a camera – all on the same play, and made it all look easy, just like the Tide did pretty much all night.

“We couldn’t quite keep up,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.

After getting hurt, Smith returned to the sideline with his hand heavily bandaged, wearing sweats and a mask with the Heisman logo. His night and college career were over, even though he tried to talk his way back onto the field. But he wasn’t going to miss the celebration and knew his teammates would finish the job.

“I just believed in them from the jump,” Smith said. “That’s what we do. That’s why you come to ’Bama.’

Alabama fans who were at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, ooh-ed and aah-ed every time he touched the ball, just as they did two years ago when he came to that same stadium and put on a show in the Orange Bowl to help the Tide past Oklahoma and into the CFP title game that season. They lost that matchup to Clemson, denying the Tide back-to-back national titles.

Smith has that second ring now, to go with the one he helped secure as a freshman when he caught the game- and title-winning pass from Tua Tagovailoa in overtime as Alabama topped Georgia for the 2017 season’s national championship.

And now, one of the questions until the NFL draft will be whether he and Tagovailoa reunite. The Dolphins – Tagovailoa’s team – have the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, and if Smith is still on the board it’s hard to imagine him not getting taken there by a team that won 10 games this season yet still missed the playoffs and is in need of a play-making wideout.

When they talk about how Alabama navigated an SEC-only schedule during the COVID-19 season without a loss and won another national championship, some names will likely come to mind with ease.

Smith, of course, will be there. So will Saban, unquestionably the most successful coach of his time. As will Najee Harris, who set the Crimson Tide single-season touchdown record with 30 scores.

And it would be a shame if they forgot quarterback Mac Jones, who bided his time behind Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts before finally getting the keys to the Alabama offense in 2020 – only to lead the nation in passing yards and passing efficiency, finish second in touchdown passes and cap it all off with a 464-yard, five-touchdown, record-setting performance in the title game.

“To me, this is the ultimate team,” Saban said.

In Saban’s mind, Smith was that team’s ultimate competitor.

For all Harris did, for all Jones did, it was a skinny kid from Louisiana who was the best player in the country, the best player on the field in the season’s ultimate game – putting up all his numbers in just one half of work.

“Heavens knows what he would have done if he played the whole game,” Saban said.

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