Cousins could get first win with Pelicans against Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- Despite the addition of DeMarcus Cousins, the New Orleans Pelicans are still seeking their first win with the center in the lineup. Playing the Los Angeles Lakers might provide a solution when the teams square off Sunday at Staples Center.

The Pelicans (24-38) are 0-4 since acquiring Cousins from the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 20. Since the trade, the Pelicans have lost four of five with their lone victory occurring Wednesday in a 109-86 win over the Detroit Pistons. Cousins didn't play because of a league-mandated suspension after he reached 18 technical fouls.

In their last outing Friday at home, the Pelicans dropped a 101-98 overtime decision to the San Antonio Spurs. The defeat left New Orleans 4 1/2 games out of the final spot in the Western Conference race for the playoffs entering Saturday's games.

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Anthony Davis, who sustained an injury to his index finger before returning to the game, scored 29 points and collected nine rebounds, but Cousins air-balled a 3-pointer before the final horn that would have forced a second overtime.

"I think we have to utilize our big guys," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told the team's website. "We're talented enough that we can play inside-out. And I think when we start inside and create double teams then that opens up free shots on the perimeter. That's where we have to start."

Gentry added that Cousins, who had 19 points and 23 rebounds against the Spurs, isn't the problem.

"The ball has to go into him more. The more he creates double teams the easier the game is on the perimeter, but we have to get him the ball," Gentry said.

Cousins torched the Lakers for 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a 97-96 win by the Kings on Feb. 14 at Staples. He is averaging 33 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists in his last three games against the Lakers.

Los Angeles (19-43), which has lost six in a row, fell to the Boston Celtics 115-95 on Friday at Staples. After a scoreless first half, Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson scored all 20 of his game-high points in the third quarter.

Clarkson's outburst allowed the Lakers to cut a 31-point Celtics lead to 15 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Celtics never allowed the lead to dip below double digits.

"Teams go on their runs and people are going to miss shots," Clarkson said. "I just stayed with the game and the second unit did a good job finding me and getting me open shots."

The Celtics swept the season series for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

"As an organization, fans and players, we don't ever want to get swept by our rivals, but that is very far down the list of things that I concern myself with," Lakers coach Luke Walton said.

New Orleans is another matter. The two clubs split their previous two meetings this season, with the Lakers posting a 126-99 win on Nov. 12. The Pelicans won the last matchup 105-88 on Nov. 29. Both games were at New Orleans.

The teams play their final regular-season game on April 11 at Staples.